Great Transformations
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Level: Graduate
Division: The New School for Social Research
Department: Politics
Course Number: GPOL 6434
Course Format: Seminar
Location: NYC campus
Permission Required: No
  • Social Sciences
  • Politics
  • Economics
This seminar analyzes the political economy of the modern welfare state in comparative historical perspective. It addresses the following questions: Why did the modern welfare state emerge in the twentieth century? What factors explain the variety of processes of capital accumulation and social protection across the world? What have been the consequences of these differences for patterns of human welfare, democratic politics and economic development? The first part of the seminar examines the construction of modern welfare systems in Europe and the United States in light of Karl Polanyi’s classic account, The Great Transformation, and their key differences. In part two we survey the variety of social welfare regimes in the global south from the 1950s to the 1970s, ranging from the productivist welfare regimes of East Asia and state corporatist systems in Latin America to informal security arrangements of South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Part three of the seminar analyzes the patterns, causes and ramifications of comparative welfare retrenchment since the 1980s in the wake of the Washington Consensus. In part four, we investigate diverse contemporary attempts to tame growing socioeconomic inequalities—ranging from rights-based legal activism and radical social movements to popular militant insurgencies—in America, India, China and Brazil. The seminar concludes by assessing the possible futures of the modern welfare state and its alternatives.
Course Open to: Degree Students with Restrictions


Not open to Undergraduate students.