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Course, academic year 2023/2024
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Dis/advantaging the family and society: the role of the welfare state - JSM740
Title: Dis/advantaging the family and society: the role of the welfare state
Guaranteed by: Department of Public and Social Policy (23-KVSP)
Faculty: Faculty of Social Sciences
Actual: from 2023 to 2023
Semester: summer
E-Credits: 5
Examination process: summer s.:
Hours per week, examination: summer s.:1/1, C [HT]
Capacity: 30 / unlimited (40)
Min. number of students: 15
4EU+: no
Virtual mobility / capacity: no
State of the course: taught
Language: English, Czech
Teaching methods: full-time
Teaching methods: full-time
Additional information:
Note: course can be enrolled in outside the study plan
enabled for web enrollment
Guarantor: Mgr. Martin Gurín
Teacher(s): Mgr. Eva Hejzlarová, Ph.D.
Class: Courses for incoming students

Dis/advantaging the family and society: the role of the welfare state

Course Description

Dis/advantaging the family and society: the role of the welfare state | General | Microsoft Teams

The study of social inequalities has been one of the major focuses of social sciences. This course will focus on the role of the welfare state in such inequalities; as the actor intervening in solving social inequalities, but also as the actor which creates new or maintain existing inequalities. In an interactive form, the course will try to introduce students to various forms and facets of inequalities and the way how these inequalities, as produced by the welfare state, can be identified.


Mode of Delivery



1,5 hour intensive Seminars every week over the teaching period unless otherwise notified. Students will be expected to undertake a further 5-6 hours independent learning each week over the semester (to prepare discussion assignments).



Offered by

Public and Social Policy Department


+49 561 804-3214


Office hours for student consultation

By appointment


Martin Gurín






Learning Outcomes

By the end of this course, students should be able to:

       i.         Define major conceptual frameworks for social inequality.

     ii.         Identify the actors and processes involved in dis/advantaging of different societal groups.

    iii.         Identify and critique policy and governance frameworks relevant to critical arenas of welfare state regulations.

    iv.         Understand the role of social policy in social change.

Assessment Summary

Assessment Task


Due Date

Linked Learning Outcomes

1.     Collective assignment – team presentation

40% of the final grade

13th Seminar

i, iii, & iv

2.     Reading assignments – discussion preparation

35% of the final grade

2-12th Seminar

i,ii,iii, & iv

3.     Research assignments

25% of final grade

3-10th Seminar

i,ii,iii, & iv


Staff Feedback

Students will be given feedback in the following forms in this course:

·       Verbal feedback of a formative nature during seminars;

·       Written feedback of a formative nature based on individual assignments; and

·       Written feedback of a summative nature based on final (collective) assignment.

Student Feedback

·       Continuous and final feedback will be provided in both verbal and written way. Students are free to provide feedback on all aspects of the course: literature, content, organisation as well as study load.












Summary of Activities









Reading assignment



Social Investment

Research assignment



Activation and workfare (1/2)

Reading assignment



Activation and workfare (2/2)

Research assignment



Homeless people in the trap of the welfare state

Reading assignment



Disabilities: caregivers or care recipients?

Class debate



Intersectionality and intersectional inequalities

Reading assignment



Family and gender

Reading assignment



Immigration and the welfare state

Reading assignment



Sexual citizenship (1/2)

Reading assignment



Sexual citizenship (2/2)

Research assignment



Conclusion of the course

Final assignment (presentation)















General design: In assessing Seminar participation, the following criteria will be taken into consideration:

  • (I) Regular participation in weekly discussions

·       (II) Discussion of the required literature („individual“ assignment)

o   Demonstration of preparation (i.e. done the reading and thought about it);

o   Demonstration of understanding of or engagement with the topic;

o   Raising relevant questions, points and challenges; and

o   Listening actively and responding to others in a constructive fashion.

§  Based on weekly assignments (written, uploaded via Moodle) (0-35%)

·       (III) Research assignments and their discussion (0-25%)

o   Demonstration of preparation (i.e. fulfilment of the set research-homework).

o   Creativity and analytical skills.

·        (IV) Preparation of the final assignment – team presentation („collective“ assignment)

o   Preparation within the semester, results being presented at the 15th Seminar (0-40%)


Assessment II – individual assignments

Students are required to read compulsory weekly literature and prepare answers to set questions. Each assignment is equal to 5 points.

·       Discussion of the comprehension questions in several (2-4) subgroups

o   Need to find the super answer!

o   What are the answers? Where can answers be found? à complete your answers.

o   Do you have any questions regarding literature?

o   Are you curious about any specific topic that can be covered later in the course?

Continuously: there should be some feedback about the literature: how easy/difficult is to comprehend the literature (= evaluation of academic texts/writing)

Contributing to discussions can be difficult for some students, especially those who have English as a Second Language (ESL), but there are different ways of contributing to discussion:

  • Giving an example to illustrate what someone else has said;
  • Agreeing, but adding some suggestions;
  • Comparing what has been said to something else you know about (perhaps something you have read);
  • Disagreeing—and giving your reasons
  • Asking a question or introducing a new topic.


Listening actively is also part of participation. Students can show that they’re participating by looking interested, which means:

  • Looking at the person who is talking;
  • Showing by your body language that you belong to the group (e.g. move your chair to be part of the group, not hiding behind other people, sit forward); and
  • Showing reactions to what people are saying in your facial expressions (e.g. nodding, smiling, frowning).


Advise to students who are not really talkative (“help for introverts”): to be shared with students


If you are someone who doesn’t find it easy to talk in Seminars, make it a personal goal to say something each week or ask a question. Don’t leave it too long before your voice is heard. The longer you leave it, the harder it will be. If there is something I can do to make it easier for you to contribute please let me know.


Assignment III – research assignments


Students will be asked to fulfil several research assignments during the semester. These assignments will be closely connected to the topics covered in the previous seminar and reflect the findings and critical discussions.

Each research assignment (including the class debate) is equal to 5 points.


Assignment IV – group presentation

Team presentation about specific policy and societal development of specific form of dis/advantagement of the social group of their interest.

Based on themes covered in the seminar, but can go beyond.

Need to satisfy basic assessment criteria:

1.     Set time limit (5 points),

2.     Clear and relevant research question (10 points),

3.     Coherence (10 points),

4.     Structure (10 points),

5.     Innovation (5 points).


During the third Seminar, subject of the presentation will be specified. Till Seminar 6, teams have to prepare short report (400-500 words) where „state of the art“ should be stated (the guidelines will be uploaded later to the Moodle). In Seminar 9, we will do a small ‚progress meeting‘ to discuss concerns of the teams, while in seminar 13 groups will present the final version of their research.





Reading guide and weekly course topics

Reading is split into required and additional. Required reading is that which we expect you have completed prior to the Seminar. Additional readings point you in the direction of extra related readings.

Weekly reading and course topics


Seminar 1: Introduction

In this introductory seminar, you will be introduced to basic terms of this course, such as: the welfare state, social inequality or deservingness. This seminar should serve as the ‘guideline’ to students in next seminars.

Reading for next week:

Larsen (2008) The Institutional Logic of welfare attitudes


Seminar 2: Deservingness


In this Seminar, we will look into one of the most prominent concepts of welfare state theory: the deservingness. Discussion of this concept will be based on the literature (Larsen 2008) and concluded by findings of other prominent researchers (e.g. van Oorschot).

Task for next week:

Research assignment


Seminar 3: Social Investment


Social investment is one of the most prominent political concepts in social policy today. Under the umbrella of this concept are policies designed to strengthen people’s present and future skills and capabilities and to support them to participate fully in employment and social life. Social investment consists in integrated policies that focus on preparing people to confront risks in different stages of the life (such as unemployment, sickness, disability, maternity and parenthood, insufficient income, childhood and old age) instead of repairing their consequences. A major question remains, however, whether this concept is realized or what potential negative consequences this concept (paradigm) may have.

Reading for next week:

Immervoll and Knotz (2018) How demanding are activation requirements for jobseekers


Seminar 4: Activation and workfare (1/2)


In this seminar, we will have a closer look on the way how welfare state dis/advantage participants in the labour market. Particular focus will be then on low-income individuals and how they face increasing conditionality and obligations in the labour market under the umbrella of ‘activation’.

Task for next week:

Research assignment


Seminar 5: Activation and workfare (2/2)


Practical side of activation will be discussed in this seminar. How is activation demanded in our countries? Who is entitled to benefits and are there any ‘threats’ imposed? What are the welfare blind spots? The concept of the ‘Social investment state’ will be discussed here.

Reading for next week:

Watts et al. (2018) Controlling homeless people: power, interventionism and legitimacy


Seminar 6: Homeless people in the trap of the welfare state


In the last seminar, we have learnt that social policy and welfare states can influence people in the labour market. The focus of the welfare state however does not stop only with the connection to the labour market; regulations focus also on the individuals who are completely outside the labour market – such as homeless individuals. Are they advantaged by regulations in the form of granting e.g. housing benefits; or are they also just at the centre of welfare state’s surveillance and obligations?

Task for next week:

Class debate


Seminar 7: Disabilities: caregivers or care recipients?


Welfare states always considered care as the “private issue”. In recent decades, however, we observe an increase of rights for those concerned with care. The important question is: who should be given the rights? Those who provide care or those who receive it?


Reading for next week:



Seminar 8: Intersectionality and intersectional inequalities


The concept of intersectionality describes the ways in which systems of inequality based on gender, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability, class and other forms of discrimination “intersect” to create unique dynamics and effects. In this seminar, we will reveal some of them in more detail.


Reading for next week:

Frericks, Maier and de Graaf (2006) Shifting the pension mix: Consequences for Dutch and Danish women


Seminar 9: Family and gender


It is of no surprise, that welfare states represent specific gender orders where women are systematically disadvantaged. In this seminar we will have a closer look into pension systems of two developed welfare states: the Netherlands and Denmark, which are far from ideal since they are deeply gender biased. Given the male-oriented norm when it comes to full pension entitlement, and given the fact that life curses are still gendered, these countries’ systems and developments have negative effects for women.

Additional focus on the way how fiscal regulations advantage family forms in Germany and other welfare regimes, will be discussed in the seminar.

Reading for next week:

Morissens and Sainsbury (2005) Migrants’ social rights, ethnicity and welfare regimes


Seminar 10: Immigration and the welfare state


Comparative welfare state research has devoted little attention to the social rights of migrants or the ethnic/racial dimension. In this seminar, we will examine the substantive social rights of migrants by focusing on their participation in social transfer programmes, and the impact of transfers on their ability to maintain a social acceptable standard of living compared with the rest of the population.

Task for next week:

Richardson (2000) Construcing sexual citizenship: theorizing sexual rights


Seminar 11 and 12: Sexual citizenship


In this seminar, we will analyse sexual citizenship through an examination of the concept of sexual rights. How has rights language been used to articulate demands in relation to sexuality? What do we mean by sexual rights or duties? Although the concept is not new, there are competing claims for what are defined as sexual rights and lack of rights, reflecting not only differences in how sexuality is conceptualized but also the fact that there is no singular agreed definition of sexual citizenship.

Task for next week:

Final assignment


Seminar 13: Concluding seminar


The last seminar will be devoted to presentations and the overall evaluation of the seminar.














Last update: Frantová Michaela, PhDr. (21.02.2024)
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