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WELFARE IMAGINARIES - PAST, PRESENT & FUTURE - SPY00057H

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  • Department: Social Policy and Social Work
  • Module co-ordinator: Dr. Aniela Wenham
  • Credit value: 20 credits
  • Credit level: H
  • Academic year of delivery: 2020-21

Module summary

This module explores pastpresent and future representations of welfare. After locating welfare reform in a historical context (the ‘golden age’ of welfare), students will explore the impacts of more recent welfare reform. This will include the effects of welfare reform on particular aspects of difference, i.e. the relationship between welfare reform and disability, as well as public attitudes to the impacts of austerity, i.e. the politics of foodbank use. With an understanding of past and present representations of welfare, students will then engage more meaningfully with what future welfare provision might look like. Questions surrounding how we can (re)imagine the welfare state and help foster counter-narratives of welfare provision in wider public debates will be focused upon. 

Module will run

Occurrence Teaching cycle
A Spring Term 2020-21

Module aims

How has welfare provision and public attitudes to welfare changed over time? What are the consequences of recent benefit changes and how might we (re)imagine welfare for the future? 

In this module, we will explore these questions as we discuss past,presentand future representations of welfare. After locating welfare reform in a historical context (through a critical engagement with ideas of a ‘golden age’ of welfare), students will explore the impacts of recent waves of welfare reform. This will include the effects of welfare reform on particular aspects of difference, i.e. the relationship between welfare reform and disability, as well as public attitudes to the impacts of austerity, i.e. the politics of foodbank use. It will further feature an exploration of the ways in which popular representations are mobilised and reinforced by politicians, and the particular role here for factual welfare television – commonly called ‘Poverty Porn’. Students will also have an opportunity to engage with what future welfare provision might look like. Here, there will be an opportunity to explore resistance to popular representations of welfare, and efforts to foster counter-narratives of welfare and to imagine different approaches. 

Students will draw upon the rich historical context of York (poverty studies/Seebohm Rowntree) and then think about how this relates to contemporary consequences of welfare reform (i.e. potential visits to local foodbanks). 

Module learning outcomes

On successful completion of the module students will be able to:

 

  • Understand resistance to welfare reform, i.e. the role of grassroot anti-poverty organisations in challenging social injustice.

 

  • Evaluate the relationship between the past and the present in being able to understand shifts in welfare provision over time. 

 

  • Assess how welfare reform relates to aspects of difference and diversity, i.e. gender, class, disability and ethnicity. 

 

  • Develop an understanding of the theories surrounding welfare policy and social justice.

 

  • Apply concepts to better understand the operation of state welfare over time. 

 

  • Understand how representations of social ‘problems’ have direct policy consequences.

 

  • Evaluate contemporary debates on welfare policy and state intervention. 

Assessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Essay
N/A 70
Oral presentation/seminar/exam
Presentation
N/A 30

Special assessment rules

None

Additional assessment information

There are two assessments to this module as outlined below: 

Assessment One (30%) – the module will embrace creative and innovative methods to develop student’s engagement with core learning outcomes. Students will be required to undertake group presentations where they present a page from a zine they have created as part of the module. This will be accompanied by a 1000 word critical commentary of the key themes to emerge from the development of the zine. Zines are creative, Do-It-Yourself, publications, which might include stories, photographs, collages, artworks, drawings, bits of writing and documents. 

 

Assessment Two (70%) - a written assignment of 3000 words. Assignment topics will encourage a multi-disciplinary engagement with welfare, and will draw upon insight from sociological theory, history as well as social policy. 

Reassessment

Task Length % of module mark
Essay/coursework
Reassessment essay
N/A 100

Module feedback

Students will receive summative feedback within four weeks of submitting their essay. Feedback will be via the Department’s marking matrix.

Indicative reading

  • Bassel, L. and Emejulu, A. (2018) Minority women and austerity: survival and resistance in France and Britain. Bristol: Policy Press.
  • Cooper, V. and White, D. (eds) (2017) The violence of austerity. London: Pluto Press.
  • Renwick, C. (2017) Bread for All: the origins of the welfare state. London: Allen Lane.
  • Welshman, J. (2013) Underclass: a history of the excluded since 1880. London: Bloomsbury.



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.

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