400150 :Armoede en beleid
(Poverty and Policy)

General info

Instruction language Dutch
Type of Instruction Compulsory seminars and practica (Lecture schedule)
Type of exams Written assignments, presentation(s) (40% together) and final exam (60%) (Examination schedule)
Course load:6 ECTS credits
Blackboard InfoLink to Blackboard (When you see 'Guest are not allowed in this course', please login at Blackboard itself)


dr. C.L. Dewilde (Coordinator)

prof. dr. M.J.M. Vermeulen


Course goals:

  1. Students understand how sociology as a discipline is related to social problems and social policy.
  2. Students can identify and explain the policy-relevant aspects of complex social problems (for example: distinguish between causes, symptoms and consequences/solutions; distinguish between different policy strategies; distinguish between universal and selective policies; explain underlying ideologies and their implications).
  3. Students can identify and explain the policy-relevant aspects of poverty and social exclusion (for example: explain and compare definitions, measures and explanations of poverty and social exclusion; argue how a choice for specific definitions, measures and explanations results in a preference for certain policies; relate underlying ideologies to explanations for poverty; argue how explanations for poverty relate to preferences for different types of policies).
  4. Students can use sociological theory to explain how intended and unintended consequences of policy arise.
  5. Students can identify the various causes of a complex social problem, and can formulate a policy advice based on scientific arguments.


In this course, the sociology of (social) policy is discussed using theory and research regarding the complex social problems of poverty and social exclusion. Academic literature is used in order to identify and discuss different policy-relevant aspects. Complex social problems such as poverty and social exclusion have various causes, and manifest themselves in different ways (insufficient income, debt, homelessness, neighbourhood deprivation, ...). Often, there is debate and discussion regarding the definition of poverty, the number of people affected, the causes and policy solutions. Different policy strategies are hence employed, which are more or less succesful. We discuss the following issues: the relation between sociology, social policy and the sociology of social policy; the social construction of social problems; different types of policies; policy evaluation; intended and unintended consequences of social policies.


Literature will be made available in Blackboard. Next to the handbook, we also use articles and/or book chapters.

Compulsory Reading

  1. Spicker, Paul, Social Policy: Theory and Practice (3rd Edition), The Policy Press, 2014, ISBN 9781447316107.

Compulsory for

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