History of Social Policy

Degree Program: Social Administration (2nd semester – elective)

Degree Program : Political Science (2nd semester – elective)

Teaching hours: 3 per week

Course tutor:Dr. Costas G. Dikeos, Assistant Professor

Email: cdikeos@socadm.duth.gr

The course aims at acquainting (junior) students with the development of forms of social policy (and social assistance in a broader sense) through human history from early antiquity to the crisis of the modern welfare state. Taught by a political scientist, it also aims to see this development in a political and social context within a cause and effect framework.

The course is divided in three broad units. Introduction + recapitulation (end) (2+1 lectures); Europe from antiquity to modernity (4-6 lectures); Greece from Byzantine Empire to the Third Greek Republic (4-6 lectures). Lectures last for 3 teaching hours of 45-50 minutes each.

(*) obviously, the third unit can be shortened for an international audience.

Lectures 1 & 2.


Social Policy, History, History of Social Policy. Policy and Politics. Concepts of state, conflict, compromise. The scope of social policy. Why should we study history of social policy?

Lecture 3.


Forms of regulation in the code of Hamurabi, ancient Mesopotamia.Social policy in classical Athens, and medical care in the Hellenistic cities.Reference to Rome.

Lecture 4.

Medieval Europe and the Renaissance.

Reference to medieval Europe and the absence of welfare. (possible to make reference to Byzantium here and not in the unit about Greece). Renaissance: secularism and introduction to the ‘world of work’; deserving and undeserving poor; Tudor social policy, the ‘First of Elizabeth’ 1601.

Lectures 5-6.

The Long Nineteenth Century.

Industrial revolution.The French Revolution.Urbanisation. Poverty: poor and pauper. Squalor.Peterlow, suffragettes, reaction.The Paris Commune.The TUC. The Ferein fur Sozial Politik; the Fabians; the Liberals; the Labour Party; the First International. Responses seeking compromise, tranquility, equilibrium etc.Otto Von Bismarck and social insurance; David Lloyd-George and Herbert Asquith; the French instability; other European countries; private initiatives (from Robert Owen to the Red Cross), and philanthropy.

Lectures (6?)-7-8-(9?)

The Short Twentieth Century.

The aftermath of the First World War; the 1929 world crisis; the Second World War as a trigger for welfare reform; Keynes-ianism; Sir William Beveridge; Clement Attlee; construction, expansion and the golden years of welfare; the crisis 1979.

Lectures 9(?)& 10.

Greece before its modern history.

Byzantium and its social policy; Greece under the Ottoman Empire; The Holy Koran and social assistance; zakat, sandaka, imaret, vakouf; the communities.

Lecture 11.

Greece from Independence (1830) to Bourgeois Modernisation (1909+).

Poverty and social assistance in post revolution period.The weak state and international help.The wealthy benefactors. Venizelos. The first steps towards social insurance. The Asia Minor disaster of 1922.

Lecture 12.

From Interwar to Post-War Greece.

Asia Minor disaster b and its aftermath and repercussions on social policy.The rise of social security. The second world war and the civil war, social policy between suspension and annihilation.

Lecture 13.

From the End of Hostilities to the European Community. The Infancy of Greek Social Policy Amidst Growth.

Authoritarian regime, economic growth (shipping, industrialization, construction), urbanization.Expansion of social policy.The dictatorship 1967-74.Political stability and the Third Greek Republic.Consolidation and growth, towards Greek golden year for social policy?

Lecture 14.

Recapitulations and Conclusions.

An overall course summary. What have we learned from studying history of social policy?


Compulsory exam at the end of term. Students are required to respond to at least one ‘debate’ question (viz ‘do you agree that history of social policy is an integral part of your studies? Explain referring to at least two historical cases … …’). Optional mid term essays are also given and add up to final mark.


Acquainting students with issues related to political history of social policy through the relation between individual<>society<>economy<>state, during centuries.