Nordic Welfare State Models 5 op 5 ECTS

Responsible university University of Helsinki. 

Start of the module March 2024.

Preamble: The Nordic Welfare State Model (NWSM) (Esping-Andersen 1990) with its emphasis on universalism and decommodification, as well as solidarity measures such as income transfers and high levels of social engineering has often been juxtaposed as an alternative to more residual and corporatist models of welfare provision with their more individualist interpretations. A cornerstone of Nordic Welfare State models in their various interpretations envisages welfare provision as primarily a state responsibility with corresponding broad systems of governmental bureaucracy affecting many aspects of people’s lives. Since the 1990’s, however, sweeping changes in national contexts, rooted in altered demographic and economic realities with the gradual entrenchment of neo-liberal ideologies, as well as on a supra-national scale, brought about by globalization and changing migration patterns have forced a re-evaluation of our conception of the nature of social relations and the role of the welfare state and social work in reducing growing inequalities. This has engendered a range of critiques as to the viability of the Nordic Welfare State in the 21st century. This course examines the history, development and contemporary challenges of the Nordic Welfare model. It includes an introduction to welfare state models in a comparative context including the general characteristics of the NWSM from both national and European perspectives. It also specifically highlights topics of labour policy & precarity, disability policy, welfare sustainability and migration policy as well future challenges for Nordic Welfare States and the NWSM.
Target group(s):  Finnish students and exchange students on Bachelor and Master level
Learning objectives:  The aim of the course is providing students with an in-depth
understanding of the NWSM, its history and future challenges in a national and European context. 
The course:
Provides students with basic theoretical knowledge about the Nordic welfare state models (NWSMs)
Introduces core principles of the NWSMs 
Describes what is (claimed to be) distinctive about the NWSMs in comparison to European welfare states/welfare systems of European countries
Briefly introduces historical development of the NWSMs, as well as similarities and differences between the NWMs 
Discusses some contemporary struggles and future challenges of/for NWSs 
Course Structure: This is an 8-week DigiCampus-based course of video presentations of international experts in the field of Nordic Welfare State development, as well as recommended readings and a two-part written assessment. Teaching and learning will be facilitated using critical questioning and reflective thinking.
Course content
Content:   Part A will focus on basics of NWSM development, and Part B will focus on contemporary struggles and future challenges of/for NWSM. 
Part A – A political-historical perspective of NSWM development. 
4 blocks of online lectures + assigned reading in connection with each block + 1 overall student assignment
- Introduction: the foundations of the NWSMs, a brief history of social welfare development, with special focus on the Finnish welfare state – PAULI KETTUNEN (
- The “characteristics” of the NWSM – HELENA BLOMBERG-KROLL (
- European policy developments, neoliberalism and the NWSM – WALTER LORENZ (
- Contemporary struggles and future challenges for welfare and welfare states in Europe – PETER BERESFORD (
Part B – Contemporary struggles and future challenges of/for NWSM
3 optional blocks out of 4 + assigned reading + 1 overall student assignment
- Precarization and the Nordic Welfare State –  VALTER SANDELL (
- Sustainable Welfare – AINO REKOLA (
- A Short History of Nordic Migration Policy – TOBIAS PÖTZSCH (
- Nordic Disability Policy: Characteristics and Challenges – URBAN MARKSTRÖM (
Assignment description: The learning assignment for this course will consist of two related and interconnected parts, both of which students are required to pass:
Learning Task 1:  In Part A – A political-historical perspective of Nordic Welfare State Model development, students will be asked to write a learning diary based on the four constituent lectures. Each participating lecturer will pose a reflective question at the conclusion of their presentation which students will reflect upon based on lecture content, their own personal experience and some of the suggested readings under the topic. 
Each diary entry should comprise at least 1 page with a total of between 4-6 pages.
(font: Times New Roman, 1.15 spacing)
The following questions can be used to support the process of writing reflections: 
What did I learn? What is still unclear to me? How is what I learned linked to what I have learned before? What kind of feelings has the lecture evoked? How is what I learned related to me as a person, as a member of society or as an expert in my field?

The criteria for a good learning diary include that the student:
Has familiarised himself or herself in depth with the assignments given on the course
Examines the themes of the course from a multidisciplinary point of view
Recognises the new knowledge that he or she has acquired and how it can be connected to what has been learned before
Reflects on how what has been learned relates to him or her as a person, as a member of society or as an expert in his or her own field
Reflects on the ethical questions and feelings evoked by what has been learned as well as how these feelings affect his or her ability to learn and act

Learning Task 2:
In Part B – Contemporary struggles and future challenges of/for Nordic welfare States, the students can select one of the presented topics of either Work and Labours Markets, Sustainable Welfare, Migration Policy or Disability Policy and write a short essay in which they reflect on the future challenges and possible ways forward of Nordic Welfare States in the 21st century. It is also recommended to utilize suggested readings on the topic to academically support your arguments.
Essay length: 4-5 pages (font: Times New Roman, 1.15 spacing)
Helpful hints in formulating essay responses:
Think critically, question the prevailing ways of acting and thinking
Think creatively, envisage possible solutions, demonstrate new kinds of thinking

Assessment and Grading: Learning tasks are marked according to the HU marking scale 1 to 5 with Part A and Part B being equally weighted at 50% and 50%. See course site for assessment criteria.
Election criteria: BA and MA Social Work students (priority) and other social disciplines. 
Number of participants: University of Helsinki MA Social Work students (20), and up to 30 students from other SOSNET universities. Maximum number of students=50.
Readings: The course provides the students with web links of open access books, chapters, and articles.
Responsible university: University of Helsinki 
Responsible teacher: Prof. Helena Blomberg 
Course author(s): Helena Blomberg
Course evaluation: Feedback Activity provided by Moodle (DigiCampus) or Customized Webrolol Survey. 
Inquiries: Mari Suonio (