Model Syllabus

The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

Model Syllabus

A Model Syllabus Using
The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy

by Joel Blau with Mimi Abramovitz

This syllabus illustrates how a new social welfare policy textbook, The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy, can serve as the basis for the required social welfare policy course. Because the syllabus is detailed, instructors can use it as written or modify it to their own liking. The Dynamics of Social Welfare Policy covers all the CSWE-required topics in the policy course, but reconfigures them in a fresh and accessible way. Some of the text"s innovative features include the following:

  • A focus on the idea that every form of social work practice embodies a social welfare policy
  • New tools for thinking critically about social welfare policy--in particular, a macro-policy analysis model that highlights the role of history, politics, economics, ideology, and social movements in policy development
  • The application of this model to five areas of social welfare policy: income support programs, employment, housing, health, and food
  • An emphasis on the constancy of change in social welfare policy
  • Knowledge of the factors that help to promote effective policy advocacy
The presence of these features creates a pioneering text that readily enables students to grasp modern social welfare policy.

Part I: Introduction

Session 1

Chapter 1: Introduction to Social Welfare Policy: Social Problems, Social Policy, Social Change, pp. v-vii & 3-18

  • Social work practice as the embodiment of social welfare policies
  • How does a social need become a social problem?
  • How does the definition of a social problem affect social work practice?
  • Conflict & change: what makes social policy evolve?
  • An introduction to the policy model: how do the economy, politics, ideology, social
  • movements, and history help to explain social welfare policy?

Session 2

Chapter 2: Definitions and Functions of Social Welfare Policy, pp.19-54

  • What is social welfare policy?
  • The blurred boundary between the public & private sectors
  • The social welfare impact of non-social welfare policies
  • Help & oppression: social welfare policy"s ambiguous legacy
  • The competing functions of social welfare policy: social, economic, and political
  • Social welfare policy as an area of struggle
  • A brief overview of the major social programs

Part II. The Policy Model

Session 3

Chapter 3: The Economy and Social Welfare, pp. 57-89

  • The relationship between the economy and social welfare
  • Some terms we use: markets, recessions, income inequality, unemployment, fiscal and monetary policy, entitlements, and social spending
  • The rise of social welfare: how did a changing economy bring about the need for social welfare programs?
  • Does social welfare complement or conflict with the private sector?
  • Five distinctive features of the modern U.S. economy: downsizing, the decline in trade union membership, the shrinking value of the minimum wage, the spread of low-wage work, and the rising number of part-time and temporary workers
  • Enron, the corporate scandals, and the future of the U.S. economy

Session 4

Chapter 4: The Politics of Social Welfare Policy, pp. 90-118

  • Beyond elections: broadening the definition of politics
  • Making political decisions: definitions of democracy and the debate about majority rule
  • Federalism: how does the American political structure affect the development of social welfare policy
  • Checks & balances: the Presidency, Congress, the judiciary, and the bureaucracy
  • The two-party system, voter participation, and divided government: what makes the U.S. different?
  • Critical elections and the cycle of American political reform
  • The political functions of social welfare policy

Session 5

Chapter 5: Ideological Perspectives and Conflicts, pp.119-145

  • What is an ideology?
  • Descriptions of four main political perspectives: conservative, liberal, radical, feminist
  • Eight important ideological disputes: how these perspectives differ on

  • 1. Human nature
    2. The relationship of the individual to society
    3. The determination of need
    4. The role of the government

Session 6

Chapter 5: Ideological Perspectives and Conflicts, pp.145-174

The eight ideological disputes, continued

5. The meaning of work
6. The nature of the family
7. The issue of racial equality
8. The benefits of professionalism

Session 7

Chapter 6: Social Movements and Social Change, pp.174-219

  • Collective behavior as a force for change
  • Ways of becoming active: individual resistance, protest, and social movements
  • The welfare state as a site of control or emancipation
  • Theories of social movements and social change
  • Ideology and social movements: the role of the "master frame"

Session 8

Chapter 7: Social Welfare History in the United States, pp.220-249 [before the New Deal]

  • Equality and inequality in U.S. history
  • What the British brought: the Anglo-American social welfare tradition
  • Reintroducing the policy model and applying it to eight historical periods

1. Social Welfare in the Colonies (1619-1783)
2. Independence to the End of the Civil War (1783-1865)
3. The Civil War to the Progressive Era (1865-1900)
4. The Progressive Era to the New Deal (1900-1932)

Session 9

Chapter 7: Social Welfare History in the United States, continued, pp.249-276 [the New Deal to the present]

5. The New Deal to World War II (1933-1945)
6. Post-World War II to the Great Society (1946-1968)
7. 1969-To the Present: The Conservative Response
8. The Patterns of U.S. Social Welfare History

Part III: Policy Analyses: Applying the Policy Model

Session 10

Chapter 8: Income Support: Program and Policies, pp.279-311

  • The triggers of social change: what led to the rise of income support programs?
  • A description of their provision and benefits
  • The economic factors that have shaped their development
  • The political factors that have shaped their development
  • The ideological factors that shaped their development
  • The role of social movements in their development
  • Income support programs: the historical pattern

Session 11

Chapter 9: Jobs and Job Training: Programs and Policies, pp.312-336

  • The context for employment policy
  • The triggers of social change: what led to the rise of federal job training programs?
  • The Workforce Investment Act as the umbrella of U.S. job training programs
  • Public job creation programs
  • The economic factors that have shaped their development
  • The political factors that have shaped their development
  • The ideological factors that shaped their development
  • The role of social movements in their development
  • A history of job training programs

Session 12

Chapter 10: Housing: Programs and Policies, pp. 337-372

  • The context for housing policy
  • Homelessness
  • Race and housing policy
  • The suburbs and housing policy
  • The triggers of social change: what led to the rise of federal housing programs?
  • A description of the major federal housing programs
  • The economic factors that have shaped their development
  • The political factors that have shaped their development
  • The ideological factors that shaped their development
  • The role of social movements in their development
  • The federal housing programs: the historical pattern

Session 13

Chapter 11: Health Care: Programs and Policies, pp.373-402

  • Excellence & scarcity: the paradoxes of U.S. health care
  • The triggers of social change: what led to the rise of U.S. health care programs?
  • Medicare, Medicaid, and the Child Health Insurance Program
  • The inadequacies of U.S. health care system: inequality, the uninsured, prescription drugs, mental health policy, and the lack of national health care
  • The economic factors that have shaped the development of health care policy
  • The political factors that have shaped its development
  • The ideological factors that shaped its development
  • The role of social movements in its development
  • What can we learn from the history of failed attempts at national health care reform?

Session 14

Chapter 12: Food and Hunger: Programs and Policies, pp.403-429

  • Defining hunger
  • Hunger: how widespread is it?
  • The consequence of nutrient deficiencies
  • The triggers of social change: what led to the rise of federal food programs?
  • Federal food programs: their provisions and benefits
  • The economic factors that have shaped their development
  • The political factors that have shaped their development
  • The ideological factors that shaped their development
  • The role of social movements in their development
  • Historical patterns in the development of food programs
  • Food programs: charity or entitlement?

Part IV: Conclusions

Session 15

Chapter 13: If You Want to Analyze a Policy..., pp. 433-435

  • Summary & review
  • Practice embodies policy
  • The permanence of social change
  • What we have learned from applying the policy model
  • The key to effective social advocacy: diagnosing the forces that propel and impede social change