What you will study
Is it possible to detect a punitive approach to social policy, and a welfarist approach to crime control? Are there some core ideas, such as personal responsibility and punishment, which apply to both welfare and crime control policies? Are these new approaches or were they always evident in policy responses? Are these approaches evident only in the UK, or are they also visible in other countries?
How does a focus on the links between social welfare and crime control help us understand important issues of social concern, such as antisocial behaviour, corporate crime, community safety, environmental degradation, child welfare, warfare and poverty?
In a globalising world of rapid social change and interconnectedness what are the effects of social regulation, surveillance and penalisation on people’s lives? Do these policies impact on some social groups and populations more than others? Do they enhance our sense of security and well-being or do they undermine it?
Does looking at historical responses to these questions, in our own and other societies, help us make sense of what’s going on currently? Are ideas of responsibility, conditionality, punitivity and ‘dangerous populations’ ‘new’ – or have they always been present in public policies addressing social problems of unmet need, crime and disorder in one way or another?
What kinds of evidence can best help us understand these trends and evaluate their effects? How is evidence variously mobilised in the course of research, evaluation and policy making? And how do different kinds of evidence reflect – or challenge – the worldview of those involved in making policy and delivering services?
To help us answer these questions, this module looks critically at a wide range of social issues, drawing on experiences of the UK and countries in Western Europe, Africa, North America and South America. It looks at the policies of national governments and the involvement of international organisations, such as the World Bank and the International Labour Organisation in the making of welfare and crime control policy, as well as the social campaigns of non-governmental organisations, social movements and community organisations. The module looks to the present, as well as the past, in making sense of contemporary strategies and responses across the social welfare and crime control domains.
These kinds of concerns, questions and themes are explored across the module. It is organised into five parts, which collectively explore the entanglements between social welfare provision and crime control strategies.
Part one provides a gentle introduction (‘taster’) to the module questions and themes. It is presented through an online video on surveillance made specifically for this module. Through a focus on childcare, gated communities and borders, this film explores how forms and practices of surveillance reveal the everyday entanglements of welfare provision and crime control in the UK and further afield.
Part two examines the relationship between social welfare and crime control through the lens of social justice. This book-led unit is concerned with changing ideas about, and struggles over, social justice at different points in time and in different contexts and settings. It explores issues of social inequality, poverty, well-being and harm in relation to diverse issues relating to paid and unpaid work, the provision of health and welfare services, housing and environmental degradation.
Part three focuses on the concept of security to investigate the emergence of widespread insecurity and fear around economic, social and cultural change. It asks why security has become such an important idea and how the notion of security links the different domains of social, personal and political life, and especially the worlds of crime control and welfare. It seeks to make sense of the changing nature of the relationship between security and insecurity and explores some of the consequences and implications of policies and practices aimed at creating security. It explores debates about social fears and responses to those fears in relation to topics such as housing, families and transport, and the regulation of social behaviour, war and disease.
Part four explores the social welfare-crime control relationships through a focus on community. It examines the contradictions of the appeal of community in terms of its identification both as a site of social ‘good’, care and stability and as a source of social problems, exclusion and order. It considers the difficulties of defining what community means; looks at the ways in which community has become a central feature of both social welfare and crime control policies; and examines a range of debates around social regulation and social capital, and issues of community safety, ‘disorder’ and mobilisations.
Part five returns to the online video used in part one of the module and uses additional material to revisit the key module concepts, themes and questions. There is also revision guidance tailored to support students through their preparation for the end-of-module exam.
Across each of the five study units students will learn about evidence, social science argument and policy – and the relationship between them. This involves a focus on different forms and sources of evidence, the ways in which different kinds of evidence are mobilised in the policy-making process and in social science debates about those policies. Students will use evidence to explore the questions raised in the module and will think about the part that evidence plays in the policy-making processes. Students will be encouraged to apply their learning to the analysis of non-module situations and examples.
This module reflects The Open University’s commitment to developing modules that span and integrate a range of learning outcomes across the areas of knowledge and understanding; cognitive (analytical) skills; key skills of communication and information literacy and lifelong learning; and practical and professional skills. The development of these skills is embedded within every stage of the module, so that students will be supported in progressively developing these skills.
Welfare, crime and society is relevant to a wide range of jobs in the public, voluntary, community and commercial sectors. The areas and themes the module looks at are directly relevant to a variety of jobs in public administration, health, education, social welfare services and criminal justice services, amongst others. The analytical and key skills you will develop are relevant to any job context. Amongst the ‘transferable’ skills you will develop are: the ability to identify, gather, analyse and assess evidence; present reasoned and coherent arguments; write clearly in a range of styles such as essays, reports and policy reviews; apply learning to non-module provided examples and situations; and plan and reflect on your own work and learning.