Applied Social Policy

November 1, 2004


University of Southern Maine
Lewiston Auburn College
Fall 2002

Instructor: Marvin Druker
Phone: 753 6582
Office: 208A
Class Hours: Thursday 4 6:30 p.m.
Office Hours: Mon. 1 4, Wed. 3 5, Thurs. 4 7, & by appointment


The catalogue description of this course is as follows: “A review of contemporary social policy alternatives and an examination of the macro and micro level social policymaking processes. Students complete an applied social policy project which might take the form of a policy paper, a grant proposal or written legislative testimony for a community agency.” Prerequisite: junior standing or permission of the instructor.


Social institutions in the United States are discussed as if they were in crisis. Families, our schools, the health care system, cities, rural areas, and our communities are often described in some form of critical state. This course will go beyond a survey of the social problems that affect these institutions and will venture into the realm of social policy creation. Our consideration of social policy will consider the social realm, the political realm, the historical realm, and the economic realm. Social policies will be analyzed as being created through macrosocial processes such as our changing national ideology, social movements, and our governmental system. We will then turn our analysis to more micro social processes such as the decisions of the director or staff of a community human services agency as they interpret rules, implement new programs, and interact with clients.

This course examines the creation of social policy on both “macro” and “micro” levels. In the process, we will also examine a number of social issues and develop our own skills in analyzing and making policy.

An extensive service learning project will allow students to apply material covered in class and in the readings to real world settings.


  1. To examine the values and perspective underlying a variety of social policies and the changing characteristics of those policies over time.
  2. To discuss the consequences of government action and inaction on social policies and the potential functions of social policy activity for the
    larger society.
  3. To develop skills essential to the policy making process such as: research, analysis, writing, planning, and interaction skills.
  4. To explore the role of power in social policy formation.
  5. To examine the role of service providers as they relate to policy making and policy implementation.


  1. Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward, Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare, updated edition, (New York, NY: Vintage Books).
  2. Michael Lipsky, Street Level Bureaucracy: Dilemmas of the Individual in Public Services, (New York, NY: Russell Sage Foundation).
  3. Diana Hacker, The Bedford Handbook, a recent edition, (Boston, Massachusetts: Bedford/ St. Martin’s).


Grades for this course will be based on the following distribution:

  1. Class Attendance and Participation 15%
  2. Short Papers (2-4 pp. each) 25%
  3. Midterm Paper: Research Policy Paper and Class Presentation 25%
  4. Final Project: Service Learning Applied Social Policy 35%
  5. Policy Project and Class Presentation (25% group work and 10% individual’s work)

Class Attendance and Participation
Class attendance is important. It is expected that you will also participate during class by asking questions, answering questions, leading discussions, relating class materials to current events, assisting others in developing their ideas, and paying attention to what is happening in class. We will, on occasion, discuss readings or assignments through student led discussion. If you must miss class, please contact me by phone or email ahead of time.

Midterm Paper: Research Policy Paper
This project will allow students to select a social policy area such as medicaid, legal aid, head start, etc. Students will research and write a brief history of the policy and its development. We will try to analyze these policies as they stand currently in the fall of 2002.

Final Project: Service Learning Applied Social Policy Project
This will involve an extensive applied social policy project in the form of a policy paper, a grant proposal, or written legislative testimony for a community agency. This project can be done in groups. It will also involve a 1 to 2 page individual paper describing and reflecting on your experiences in this service learning process. We will discuss possible projects in class. Students will then develop a work plan for completing this project.

Short Papers
There will be several assignments asking students to analyze case studies, essays, or reading assignments in 2 to 4 page papers given periodically through the semester.


September 5
Introduction to the Course. Discussion of Projects.

September 12
Policy Analysis: Macro Analysis
The Establishment of Relief & Its Relation to Labor and Civil Disorder
Piven & Cloward, Intros & Ch. 1.

September 19
The Great Depression and the New Deal
P & C Chs. 2 & 3

September 26
Stabilization of Relief: The 40’s & 50’s
P & C, Chs. 4 & 5

October 3
The Expansion of Welfare in the 1960’s: The Great Society
P & C, Chs. 6 & 7

October 10
Reacting to Disorder & the Increased Role of the Federal
P & C, Chs. 8 & 9

October 17
Consequences of the Great Society
P & C, Ch. 10

The Role of the Street Level Bureaucrat
Lipsky, preface & Chs. I & 2

October 24
Midterm Policy Papers Due with Class Presentations

October 31
Deindustrialization and Welfare to Work
P & C. Ch. 11s

Conditions of Work for the SL Bureaucrat
Lipsky, Chs. 3 6

November 7 Poor Relief and Theories of the Welfare State
P & C. Ch. 12

November 14 Patterns of Practice for the SL Bureaucrat
Lipsky, Chs. 7 10

November 21 The Future of Street Level Bureaucrats
Lipsky, Chs. 11 13

November 28
Thanksgiving Vacation

December 5
The Future of the Welfare State in the United States

Service Learning Paper Presentations

December 12

Service Learning Papers Due

December 19
Paper Presentations

Final Project: Individual Reflection Paper

Please answer the following questions about your reactions to working on this semester’s service learning project:

A. Did you find any personal value in doing the project, e.g., personal satisfaction, personal achievement, etc.?

B. Did the project provide you with any interpersonal or social benefits, e.g., an increased concern for others or a greater appreciation for people of diverse backgrounds or a sense of community connectedness?

C. How did the project enhance your learning? Did it help increase your knowledge, did it help develop critical thinking, did it help you to connect academic subject matter to the “real world” etc.?

D. Will your work on the project enhance your occupational skills? For example did it re realistic view of a particular area of work, did it show you new possibilities for employment, etc.?

E. How did work on the project influence your civic awareness or skills? e.g., an awareness of community problems, commitment to making a difference,
intention to work for social justice, etc.?

For those of you working in a group please also answer these two questions:
1. What was your role in the project?
2. Comment on how well the group interacted in completing the task?

School: University of Southern Maine
Professor: Marvin Druker
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