SA4M1      Half Unit
Politics of Social Policy: Welfare and Work in Comparative Perspective

This information is for the 2018/19 session.

Teacher responsible

Dr Timo Fleckenstein OLD.2.60


This course is available on the MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Columbia), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Hertie), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and NUS), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Sciences Po), MPA Dual Degree (LSE and Tokyo), MPA in International Development, MPA in Public Policy and Management, MPA in Public and Economic Policy, MPA in Public and Social Policy, MPA in Social Impact, MSc in Comparative Politics, MSc in EU Politics, MSc in EU Politics (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in International Social and Public Policy, MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Development), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Migration), MSc in International Social and Public Policy (Non-Governmental Organisations), MSc in Political Economy of Europe, MSc in Political Economy of Europe (LSE and Sciences Po), MSc in Political Sociology, MSc in Public Administration and Government (LSE and Peking University), MSc in Public Policy and Administration, MSc in Social Policy (Research) and Master of Public Administration. This course is available with permission as an outside option to students on other programmes where regulations permit.

Course content

The course explores the politics of social policy in advanced political economies. In the first part of the course, the main analytical approaches for the cross-national analysis of welfare states are introduced (such as the industrialism thesis, the power resources model, new institutionalism, feminist theory and the globalisation thesis). These will be examined in the context of the rise of modern welfare states and their transformations since the end of the 'Golden Age' in the mid-1970s. These analyses and the theoretical approaches to cross-national study of welfare states will be harnessed in the second part of the course when the focus shifts towards more recent policy developments since the 1990s. The empirical focus is on the welfare-and-work nexus. The course analyses the development of labour market and family policies in Nordic countries, Continental Europe, Anglo-phone countries and East Asia.


10 hours of lectures and 15 hours of seminars in the LT.

Formative coursework

Seminar members will be expected to make presentations to the seminar, and submit a formative essay of 1,500 words. 

Indicative reading

Bonoli, Giuliano, and Natali, David, eds. (2012) The Politics of the New Welfare State, Oxford: OUP.

Castles, Frances G. et al., eds. (2010) The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, Oxford: OUP.

Clasen, Jochen, and Clegg, Daniel, eds. (2013) Regulating the Risk of Unemployment: National Adaptations to Post-Industrial Labour Markets in Europe, Oxford: OUP.

Kersbergen, Kees van and Vis, Barbara (2013) Comparative Welfare State Politics: Development, Opportunities, and Reform, Cambridge: CUP.

Lewis, Jane (2009) Work-Family Balance, Gender and Policy, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar


Essay (100%, 3000 words).

Student performance results

(2014/15, 2016/17 combined)

Classification % of students
Distinction 18.8
Merit 62.5
Pass 18.8
Fail 0

Key facts

Department: Social Policy

Total students 2017/18: 17

Average class size 2017/18: 17

Controlled access 2017/18: Yes

Value: Half Unit

Guidelines for interpreting course guide information

Course survey results

(2014/15, 2016/17 combined)

1 = "best" score, 5 = "worst" score

The scores below are average responses.

Response rate: 82%



Reading list (Q2.1)


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