Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2022/2023

Learning outcomes

The course aims to provide in-depth knowledge of the conceptual and analytical tools for analyzing and recognizing the forms and effects of local governance of welfare policies.

At the end of the course the student is able to::

- identify the complex social dynamics underlying the transformations of local welfare policies and processes of territorialization;

- know and critically analyze the design and planning of instruments of local welfare policies based on the inclusion of civil society and third sector actors; and

- critically analyze the role of different actors operating in the field of local-level social policies, the strategies at play in building networks, social and institutional innovations, and emerging critical issues.

Course contents

The course is organized in lectures and seminars, as detailed in the following program. Lectures (16 hours) aim to introduce students to the core tenets of the discipline. Seminars (12 hours) aim to provide occasions for in-depth discussions of class materials and exercises. For the seminar section of the course, students will be divided in 2 groups. Students attend a total of 28 hours of classes.

The first section of the course is focused on deepening the theoretical and conceptual tools for understanding the following thematic dimensions: the recent transformation of the welfare state in terms of territorialization, participation and social innovation; the different forms of collaboration (and conflict) between the public sector and market, third sector and civil society actors; the role of different actors operating in the field of social policies at the local level, the strategies at play and the tools available in building networks; the emerging social and institutional innovations and critical issues.

The second section, organized according to a seminar format, has the purpose of delving into emerging trends and emblematic initiatives at the local welfare level in different European contexts, focusing in particular on the problems, risks and prospects of these trends and initiatives. Through the presentation and discussion of case studies, materials and documents related to the heterogeneous experiences taking shape at the local level, as well as empirical research and theoretical reflections on the topic, this section aims to investigate the implications of new forms of active citizenship and new public and private actors’ networks on local welfare axes and levels of local democracy, discussing the factors that can foster or weaken the capacity for social action and local innovation.


Bifulco, L. (2016). Social policies and public action. Routledge.

Gori, C. (2022). Le politiche del welfare sociale. Mondadori.

Longo, F., & Maino, F. (2022). Platform Welfare: Nuove logiche per innovare i servizi sociali. EGEA.

The entire list of materials and textbooks for examination will be provided at the beginning of the course.

Suggested readings:

Saraceno, C. (2013). Il welfare. il Mulino.

Beresford, P. (2016). All our welfare: Towards participatory social policy. Policy press.


Teaching methods

First part of the course (16 hours): lecture. Through traditional lectures, the course contents are presented and discussed. The first part of the course is aimed at knowledge acquisition (concepts, theories, tools/procedures, facts/events).

Second part of the course (12 hours): seminar. In the seminar part of the course, it is the interaction between students and with the lecturer that is explicitly stimulated. Hence the division into 2 groups of students, formed through the subdivision of the class that attended the lectures.

The students are encouraged to conduct a structured activity in the classroom to compare and verify the knowledge acquired by reading the indicated texts. They are therefore required to come to class having already read the assigned material and to elaborate on what they have learned.

In detail, the seminar lectures will be organized as follows:

- teacher-led discussion aimed at checking students' preparation with respect to the assigned readings (with grade)

- Structured classroom presentation and discussion on an individual basis by students of the assigned readings according to a fixed schedule (with grade)

- Introduction to the readings for the following week by the teacher

Each seminar group participates in only one weekly lecture. This gives the student adequate time to study the material, provided by the teacher, in preparation for the lecture.

Assessment methods

For attending students, at the end of the first part of the course (Lecture, frontal part) there will be a written test, in take-home format (40% of the final grade).

The following will be evaluated for the seminar part:

In-class participation and presentation in the seminar sessions (40% of the final grade);

An oral examination aimed at testing not only knowledge of the texts presented and discussed in the seminars, but also the ability to relate them to the concepts and issues that constitute the main focus of the course (20%).

Students who do NOT attend classes regularly will be assessed through a final written exam in take-home mode. The exam will consist of 3 questions and students will have to provide answers of approximately 1000 words each. Exams will be made available on Exams OnLine (EOL) 4 days prior to the exam dates as posted on AlmaEsami and will be due on the exam date by noon.

Criteria for evaluation of written tests

- discussion of concepts and theories, with reference to the debate in the literature;

- empirical examples that support the different arguments;

- Well-structured text: Introduction: brief overview of the topic, definition of the problem addressed, and description of how the essay will unfold; Central part of the paper: structured discussion of related phenomena and concepts and empirical illustrations; Brief conclusion summarizing the paper.

Learning Assessment Criteria:

18-21: elementary knowledge of topic, and/or not always correct, partial argumentation and reworking skills

22-25: satisfactory knowledge of topic, fairly sound argumentation and reworking skills

26-29: good or very good knowledge of the topic, good or very good argumentation and reworking skills

30: accurate knowledge of the topic, very good argumentation and reworking skills

30 and honors: precise knowledge of the topic, excellent argumentation and reworking skills, relevant personal reprocessing of knowledge.

Teaching tools

Slides and readings uploaded to virtual.unibo.it.

Office hours

See the website of Nicola De Luigi