Social Policy and Social Work in Urban Areas

Degree: Master
University: University of Amsterdam , Faculty: Faculty of Social and Behavioral Sciences
City: Amsterdam , Country: Netherlands
Discipline: Social Sciences
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  • Start Date of Studies September
  • Admission deadline April 6
  • Language English
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  • Programme Description

    Programme Description

    What are the main social problems of urban areas? Poverty or social exclusion? Racism or failing integration of ethnic minorities? Domestic violence and addiction or failing police corps in crime ridden neighbourhoods? Teenage pregnancies and school drop out or failing education, youth help and health care? Failing institutions or failing families and social networks?

    Ideas on what the core issues are vary with time and place. So do ideas of how to solve these problems. Today there is a lot of stress on failing social networks; policy makers therefore concentrate their efforts in restoring and creating social networks and thereby in building social capital. In earlier days their attention was focused on combating poverty and social exclusion.

    These varying definitions of social problems and their solutions have direct consequences for conceptions of the role of professionals working in urban areas. Should for example social workers focus on empowerment, trying to help people to raise their voice and augment their influence in social policy? What are their ideas of a good life and a just society, and to what extent should such ideas influence their work? What is the right balance between engagement and adjustment, and between paternalism and indifference?

    Also, ideas on how different professionals relate to each other vary. Today, social problems are considered to require an integrative approach and collaboration between social workers and other parties such as care workers, police, citizen's organisations and private business. Therefore these days starting, developing, implementing, monitoring, evaluating and legitimating social policy and social projects are important professional competencies.

    This master aims to study the ways in which social problems in urban areas are defined and solved, and analyses the roles ascribed to professionals in these processes. It analyses the recent histories of various definitions, solutions and roles and puts these in a comparative European context.

    The master focuses on social problems of urban regions in modern European welfare states, incidentally including urban regions outside Europe such as the US. It compares the way social problems are defined and tackled in various European countries, and puts these in a historical context.


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