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Citizenship, Difference & Inequality - SPY00018I

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Prof. Peter Dwyer
  • Credit value: 30 credits
  • Credit level: I
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

Linking entitlement to publicly provided welfare benefits and services is now part and parcel of an increasingly conditional welfare state, but is it ever fair to remove or reduce someone's right to social security benefits if they behave 'irresponsibly' or fail to search for work? If you are interested in exploring how different ideological approaches lead to diverse answers to this question then choose 'Citizenship, Difference and Inequality'. This module explores competing visions of social citizenship and the implications that current welfare reforms have for diverse groups of citizens.

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Autumn Term 2020-21 to Summer Term 2020-21

Module aims

This module aims to enable students to specifically:

  • Develop a conceptual framework to explore a number of important contested ideological approaches to citizenship and assess their implications in respect of difference and inequality
  • Evaluate the implications and outcomes that difference according to class, gender, ethnicity and disability may have for the social rights/responsibilities and citizenship status of certain individuals and groups
  • Critically consider, national and supra national dimensions of social citizenship policy and debates

More generally the module aims to enhance students' academic/generic skills in relation to:

  • The delivery of coherent oral presentations using Powerpoint and a variety of other media
  • Undertaking independent, supported research in order to prepare and present focussed and logically structured written essays and reports

Module learning outcomes

A student who successfully completes the module should be able to:

  • Demonstrate knowledge of a number of competing perspectives and ideological approaches to social citizenship
  • Demonstrate a familiarity with debates concerning provision, welfare conditionality and membership and an ability to apply these issues in relation to debates about social citizenship, difference and inequality
  • Reflect on the relationship between policies and practices in relation to citizenship, difference and inequality at micro, meso and macro levels
  • Identify the relevance of a variety of primary and secondary sources in their research organise and deliver seminar presentations
  • Make coherent cogent and logically structured written and oral presentations on topics related to citizenship and social policy
  • Undertake independent research within the structure of a guided and indicative reading list

Module content

This second year social policy module will be of interest to students of social policy, sociology, politics and others with an interest in citizenship and on-going welfare state reform within and beyond the UK. Three key themes relevant to contemporary debates about social citizenship citizenship i.e. provision, conditionality and membership run through the module. Crucial questions will be asked such as;

What role should the state, the market and family play in delivering welfare to citizens? (Provision)

Is it reasonable to deny welfare benefits and services to those who refuse to engage in active job search and/ or stop behaving in antisocial or harmful behaviour? (Conditionality)

Who has a legitimate claim to collectively provided welfare and who might be justifiably excluded from such support? (Membership)

In the first term such questions will provide the basis for a critical analysis of six important perspectives (i.e. the Social Democratic approach of T. H. Marshall, the New Right, New Communitarianism, New Labour, contemporary Conservativism and Welfare Service Users) on the welfare element of citizenship and their implications for welfare policy, particularly, but not exclusively, within the British setting. The focus will then then shifts to consider issues of difference (class, gender, ethnicity and disability) and their significance to citizenship status and individual/group welfare rights. To complete the module debates about the potential for the development of citizenship beyond the nation state e.g. European Union and Global citizenship are considered.


Task Length % of module mark
2000 Word Essay
N/A 50
2000 Word Essay
N/A 50

Special assessment rules



Task Length % of module mark
Re-assessment essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

In the autumn term students are expected to prepare and deliver and a 10-15 minute oral presentation on a set seminar question chosen from an available list. They receive informal feedback on the content and delivery of the presentation from their fellow students and the module convenor in classroom discussions immediately following each presentation. Subsequently many students develop the themes which were initially outlined in their seminar presentations in order to answer a related question from the formal assessment list. Students are encouraged to email outline plans for their assessed work to their tutors for comments in return email. Students are also encouraged to book one to one slots for face to face slots to discuss their progress and plans in relation to assessed work.

Indicative reading

  • Alcock, P., May, M, and Wright, S. [eds] (2012) [4th edition] The Student's Companion to Social Policy Wiley London Blackwell/SPA
  • Dwyer, P. (2000) Welfare Rights and Responsibilities: Contesting Social Citizenship, Bristol, Policy Press
  • Dwyer, P. (2010) [2nd Edition] Understanding Social Citizenship: Issues for Policy and Practice, Bristol, Policy Press.
  • Lister, R. (2010) Understanding Theories and Concepts in Social Policy, Bristol, Policy Press.
  • Pierson, C., Castles F.G. and Naumann, I. K. [eds] (2013) [3rd Edition] The Welfare State Reader, Cambridge, Polity Press.

The information on this page is indicative of the module that is currently on offer. The University is constantly exploring ways to enhance and improve its degree programmes and therefore reserves the right to make variations to the content and method of delivery of modules, and to discontinue modules, if such action is reasonably considered to be necessary by the University. Where appropriate, the University will notify and consult with affected students in advance about any changes that are required in line with the University's policy on the Approval of Modifications to Existing Taught Programmes of Study.

Coronavirus (COVID-19): changes to courses

The 2020/21 academic year will start in September. We aim to deliver as much face-to-face teaching as we can, supported by high quality online alternatives where we must.

Find details of the measures we're planning to protect our community.

Course changes for new students