SN4200 Understanding Citizens' Street-level Encounters with the Welfare State Emneplan

Engelsk emnenavn
Understanding Citizens' Street-level Encounters with the Welfare State
Master Programme in Applied Social Sciences - Study Option International Social Welfare and Health Policy / Master's Programme in Applied Social Sciences – Study Option Nordic Social Policy and Global Sustainable Development
10 stp.


This course provides an overview of useful theoretical perspectives when analysing citizens' encounters with welfare systems and the street level bureaucrats, both in the Nordic countries and internationally. The course covers theories on individual agency, social networks, social reproduction, and social change, social construction, and interactional processes. The theories will be applied on current issues in welfare society and in social policy. The course invites active discussions on how to apply select theories to analyse and interpret people’s experiences with the state, market, family and organised civil society as welfare providers.

In this course we acknowledge the diversity of experiences that people have in their encounters with social welfare. We address the importance of class, gender, ethnicity, age, disability and sexuality and the intersectionality of these factors for people's opportunities to be full and active members of society. 




A candidate who has completed his or her qualification has the following learning outcomes defined in terms of knowledge, skills, and general competence:


The candidate has

  • advanced knowledge of social theories of institutions and citizens
  • advanced theoretical knowledge on the sociology of professions and how welfare policies are channeled through street-level bureaucracies
  • insight into how to critically assess these theories and their application
  • thorough knowledge of how the theories may be applied to research analysis in social policy
  • knowledge on of how to apply one or more of these theories in a Master's thesis


The candidate

  • is able to identify and discuss different theories and their application in policy-making
  • is able to develop institutional designs, policies, and guidelines
  • critically assess how bureaucratic practices align with rule of law and human rights
  • can identify how practical research analysis may be conducted using these theories
  • can critically discuss the empirical implications of particular social theories

General competence

The candidate

  • can contribute to innovation in street-level encounters between citizens and welfare state professionals
  • can contribute to innovative and critical thinking in transferring knowledge and skills to areas for collective coordination and decision-making
  • can apply social theories in new areas in order to carry out advanced assignments and projects

Arbeids- og undervisningsformer

The course will comprise a mix of lectures and active student involvement. Students will end the course with a paper and a presentation in which they discuss one of the theories covered in the curriculum. There will be a meeting set aside for student presentations.

Arbeidskrav og obligatoriske aktiviteter

The following coursework requirement must be completed and approved by the given deadline for the student to take the exam.

The student must (1) submit an individual written paper (6 pages, Calibri, pt.12, 1,5 line spacing) where they present and discuss one of the theories covered in the curriculum, and (2) present it in one of the two final meetings, with feedback from lecturers and classmates.

If the individual written paper has not been approved, the student will be allowed to submit an improved version one time by the given deadline.

Vurdering og eksamen

The student's learning outcome will be assessed on the basis of an individual six-hour written school examination.

Hjelpemidler ved eksamen

Students may use a spelling dictionary, as well as a bilingual dictionary during the written school exam.


Grade scale A-F. 


The exam papers are assessed by one internal and one external examiner.

A random selection consisting of at least 25% of the exam papers will be graded by both an internal and external examiner. This will inform the grading of the remaining exam papers.