SOC 185Y - Social Policy Spring 2020

This upper-division course examines the welfare state –government social policies that affect the welfare of individuals, families and groups. Such policies include workers' compensation, unemployment insurance, old-age insurance, public assistance to people who are disabled or poor, health insurance, sickness and maternity leave, family and child allowances, child care, labor market policy, tax policy and macroeconomic policy. The course is conducted in hybrid format, composed of in-person and online sessions.
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Drew Halfmann




Upper-division standing and previous courses in the social sciences are recommended.


Spring 2020


The course examines the characteristics of American policies in comparative and historical perspective. It also examines political contention surrounding these policies. The American welfare state is commonly considered a “laggard” —spending less on social policy than other advanced democracies, and lacking policies such as national health insurance and family allowances that are standard in other countries. Students in the class explore explanations for this “American exceptionalism.”