Anthropology, Gender studies, Political science, Social policy, Social science, Sociology

Course date

4 July - 9 July, 2011
Extended application deadline:
1 March, 2011
Course Director(s): 

Eva Fodor

Department of Gender Studies, Central European University, Budapest, Hungary

Christy Glass

Department of Sociology, Social Work & Anthropology, Utah State University, Logan, USA
Course Faculty: 

Lynne Haney

Department of Sociology, New York University, USA

Ann Orloff

Department of Sociology, Northwestern University, Evanston, USA

Dorota Szelewa

Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences, Bremen, Germany

Joan C. Williams

Hastings College of the Law, University of California, San Francisco, USA

One of the most pressing questions facing comparative social scientists concerns the role of the welfare state in mediating social inequalities in a global economy. While some scholars argue that the welfare state will whither in the face of shrinking state budgets and neoliberal austerity measures, others argue for the continued relevance and durability of welfare state institutions in democratic societies.

Despite these debates, most scholars agree that social welfare institutions face significant demographic, social and economic challenges in the current political economy. Of particular salience among these challenges is the future relationship of the state to women and families. Scholars have long identified the complex and often contradictory construction of women's roles within modern welfare states. While some policy arrangements focused nearly exclusively on supporting male breadwinners, other arrangements constructed women as needing social supports as wives and mothers. While contemporary policy arrangements are being modified and reformed-sometimes in radical ways-the relationship between the state and gender relations continues to challenge scholars and policy makers alike. This course will confront these challenges through engagement with sophisticated theoretical models, cutting-edge empirical research and a critical comparative analysis of policy arrangements and their outcomes.

Central questions motivating the course will be:

  1. How useful are classical models of welfare regime change in explaining contemporary trends in developed democracies in Western Europe as well as in transitional democracies in Central and Eastern Europe and beyond?
  2. What mechanisms are driving changes in both the policy logics and the politics of welfare states in East and West and what are the gendered outcomes of these political processes?
  3. How are regulatory and policy-based restructuring efforts aimed at increasing individual autonomy via paid employment impacting women, men and families and how do these impacts vary by class and race?
  4. What are the impacts of cross-national variations in work-family policy arrangements on workers and how do these impacts vary by gender, class and race?
  5. How do state institutions manage regulatory and punitive practices, from incarceration to immigration, in gendered ways? What are the impacts of these institutional logics on men, women and families and how do these impacts vary by race and class?
  6. What are the most pressing needs for comparative social research in the area of gender, states and welfare in a global economy?