Models of Solidarity and Social Politics

A.Y. 2021/2022
Overall hours
Learning objectives
The course aims to illustrate the values and objectives underlying different 'models of solidarity', to provide students with a general understanding of the functioning of different welfare regimes in different countries and geographical areas, and to show how they are the result of the interaction among four areas of social regulation - the market, the state, the family, and the community. Adopting this perspective from a historical-evolutionary angle also allows us to understand the dynamics of transformation of welfare systems, outlining the role of specific factors - such as economic growth, changes in the mode of production, demographic trends, institutional factors, social demands and strictly political dynamics.

In line with the overall objectives of the faculty, the course aims in particular at understanding the specific role of political factors - regime type, form of government, party systems, dynamics of political-electoral competition - in the institutionalisation of different 'solidarity models' and in shaping the content of specific welfare reforms. To do so, we will first introduce the basic concepts for the study of social policies and the analysis of the historical-comparative evolution of welfare systems. Subsequently, through an in-depth examination of different political science approaches aimed at explaining institutional change in social protection systems, we aim to allow students to understand and interpret the most recent welfare transformations.
Expected learning outcomes
The course aims primarily at providing students with the knowledge and analytical tools necessary to study social policies in a comparative perspective. The focus on concepts and main analytical dimensions, as well as the adoption of the comparative-historical perspective, should enable students to develop the ability to analyse complex systems such as welfare regimes, by understanding the interactions between these and economic, demographic, social and, above all, political dynamics. Studying for the exam will therefore allow students to acquire the tools to understand, describe and interpret the political, institutional, economic and social dynamics shaping the transformation of welfare states.
Specifically, the course aims to provide the information and skills necessary to: i) analyse and make independent judgments about social policy proposals and reforms; ii) analyse the economic, social and political consequences of welfare reforms; iii) identify the underlying reasons for a given social policy decision. In addition, students will learn to find and use the main qualitative and quantitative information sources (databases) to analyse welfare systems and related political dynamics.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second trimester
If necessary the lectures will be held through the platform Microsoft Teams. Students will be required to attend the classes in the scheduled time for the course. Same as in class-based lectures, remote sessions are conducted in a very interactive way.

The syllabus of the course and teaching materials will not change. If necessary due to the emergency, the exam will be taken in written form in remote through the platform following the modalities illustrated on the UNIMI web page. Even in remote the written exam will be structured in the same way of the exams taken in class and will include multiple-choice questions, short exercises, open and semi-open questions.
Course syllabus
The course focuses on welfare state development and its main determinants since origins in the XIX century until the recent phase of crisis and reforms, in order to understand normative reference models, functioning and evolution of social protection systems. It is articulated on three units.
Unit 1 provides: a) the fundamental analytical tools for the study of social protection systems in a comparative perspective; b) an analysis of developmental factors and dynamics; c) a presentation of the different welfare/welfare state models and regimes; d) a discussion of the "crisis" of the welfare state, paying special attention to its endogenous and exogenous determinants.
Unit 2 focuses on the main economic, social and institutional challenges social protection systems faced over the last three decades. In details, it will focus on: a) family and gender transformations; labour market flexibility, precariousness and welfare state change; youth, citizenship model and social protection systems; the EU and welfare state, focusing in particular with the challenges posed by the integration process to national welfare systems and the increasing role played by European institutions in the social field.
Finally, Unit 3 focuses on the role of institutional factors and political competition dynamics in shaping institutional change in the field of welfare. In details, the module will develop around the following topics: the traditional theories of welfare state change: functionalism, power resource theory and historical neo-institutionalism; new labour market divides and their impact on the structuring of political conflicts in Europe, between public opinion and political parties; interest groups and social policies: trade unions, employers, social movements, NGOs and political exchange dynamics between social and political actors.
Prerequisites for admission
No preliminary knowledge is required to attend the course/take the exam.
Teaching methods
This is an interactive course, which envisages active participation on the part of the students. The course is based on 20 lecture-based sessions, conducted in a very interactive way in order to: a) favour discussion, both student/professor and among students b) stimulate critical thinking c) fine tuning the course content in accordance with students' interests
d) strenghten students' oral communication skills. By attending classes, students take on the obligation to: do all the readings in advance and come to class prepared to discuss; actively participate in class discussions; take the moderator role in discussions when requested; make presentations when required
Teaching Resources
A list of required readings for the Units 1-2-3 will be circulated at the beginning of the course. Lecture slides will be made available on the course website and are part of the programme.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The assessment will be based on: participation in class debates and discussion; presentations in class and acting as a scheduled discussant; final (written) exam on slides and articles listed by the instructor on the course website.
The written test includes multiple-choice and open questions, both aiming to test the acquisition of basic skills in social policy analysis. One or more open-ended questions will be designed to test your ability to make informed and critical use of the key concepts underlying the study of social policy.
SECS-P/03 - PUBLIC ECONOMICS - University credits: 6
Lessons: 40 hours