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POL8061 : Welfare Attitudes: A Comparative Politics Approach (Inactive)

  • Inactive for Year: 2022/23
  • Module Leader(s): Dr Diana Burlacu
  • Owning School: Geography, Politics & Sociology
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semester 2 Credit Value: 20
ECTS Credits: 10.0


In this module, we examine why some people support welfare policies while others do not. We
consider both individual and contextual factors that influence individuals' support for particular
social policies, and for the welfare state in general. The key aims of this module are:

(1)       To introduce students to the main theories of welfare attitudes.

(2)       To provide students with practical skills to measure and analyse public attitudes.

(3)       To increase students' capacity to appraise academic research on, and popular accounts of, public attitudes.

(4)       To engage students with the comparative study of public opinion.

Outline Of Syllabus

The module is divided into three parts. First, the module introduces the key concepts of welfare state and welfare attitudes. Second, the module discusses different theories of individual predictors of welfare attitudes. The module concludes by examining welfare attitudes across time and countries. Statistical techniques varying from graphs, cross-tabulations to correlations and regression analysis (according to students' skills) are used to exemplify diverse empirical applications of the main theories.


1.       Welfare states and welfare attitudes – introduction to the module.

2.       Welfare states: history and typology.

3.       Welfare attitudes: types and measurements.

What explains individuals' welfare attitudes?

4.       A rational choice approach.

5.       A sociological approach.

6.       A social psychological approach.

How/why do public attitudes differ across countries?

7.       Policy feedback effects and the regime hypothesis.

8.       Public v policy responsiveness.

9.       Globalisation, migration and inequality.

10.       The effect of the Covid-19 pandemic on welfare attitudes.

11.       Review, recap and preparation for final assignment.

Indicative Readings

Cavaillé, Charlotte and Trump, Kris-Stella. 2015. The two facets of social policy preferences. Journal of Politics, 77(1):146–160

Edlund, Jonas. 1999. Progressive taxation farewell? Attitudes to income redistribution and taxation in Sweden, Great Britain and the United States. in Svallfors, S. and Taylor-Gooby, P. (Eds), The end of welfare state? Public response to state retrenchment. Routledge

Jensen, Carsten, and Michael Bang Petersen. 2017. The deservingness heuristic and the politics of health care. American Journal of Political Science 61(1): 68-83.

Zhu, Ling, and Christine S Lipsmeyer. 2015. Policy feedback and economic risk: the influence of privatization on social policy preferences. Journal of European Public Policy 22(10): 1489-1511.

Teaching Methods

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture31:003:00Pre-recorded lecture materials
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching82:0016:00PiP seminars
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesWorkshops32:006:00PiP computer lab sessions
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesDrop-in/surgery21:002:00Student consultation and feedback - PiP or online
Guided Independent StudyIndependent study1173:00173:00N/A
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Seminars will give students the opportunity to present and discuss theoretical ideas and empirical applications based on the weekly assigned readings.

The online lecture material provides asynchronous material on different statistical techniques to analyse welfare attitudes.

Workshops will provide students with hands-on experience with the relevant statistical techniques.

Drop-in/surgeries will provide additional guidance for students when preparing the literature review, research design and empirical analysis for the final research paper.

Assessment Methods

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Research paper2M1004000 word research paper
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The research paper will test students' ability:

•       To address a major question in the area of comparative welfare attitudes.

•       To draw upon and engage critically with the relevant literature.

•       To formulate simple theoretical expectations based on cited literature.

•       To design a simple research design.

•       To identify and synthetize relevant empirical data/evidence.

•       To evaluate whether empirical evidence supports the formulated theoretical expectations.

The research paper outline will give students the opportunity to receive early feedback on the outline of their final research paper.

Reading Lists