Like most websites, the website of the University of Humanistic Studies uses cookies. More information

Organizing Social Justice (2018-2019)

Course Title

Organizing Social Justice

Course Code



Professional skills

Year of Study

Master, 2nd year




7,5 ECTS




Dr. Ellen Grootegoed


Prof. dr. Evelien Tonkens, Dr. Ellen Grootegoed, Simon van der Weele MA, Jante Schmidt MA

to Educational Objectives

The study objective is to contribute to the following goals of the master Humanistics:
Knowledge and understanding of foundational concepts of humanistic studies

  • 3. Knowledge and understanding of normative professionalization
  • 7. General academic skills and attitude
  • 9. Knowledge of the work sphere / professional practice
  • 10. Skills regarding the occupational context 
Objectives 1 to 7 specify the academic training within humanistic studies. Objectives 8 to 11 specify the professional training.


According to the requirements, after participating in Organization 2 the student is able to:

  1. Define the characteristics of a welfare state and identify different welfare regimes
  2. Describe the history and features of main social policies of the Dutch welfare state, including its recent changes 
  3. Interpret and discuss current Dutch welfare state reform in terms of recognition and redistribution
  4. Evaluate the impact of recent Dutch welfare state reform on organizations, professionals and clients, from a sociological perspective
  5. Make an original contribution to the redistribution-recognition debate, centered on a specific social problem and/or social policy.

Content Description

This course gives a deepening of the knowledge gained in Organization 1. In this course we focus on welfare states in general, and the Dutch welfare state in specific. We analyse recent social policy changes and their impacts upon various stakeholders, most importantly in the area of labour, care and welfare. Social justice of welfare policy and policy reform is reviewed through a lens of recognition (Honneth) and parity of participation (Fraser). The philosophical debate between Honneth and Fraser on the proper balance between redistribution and recognition will guide us in the analysis of which social problems the welfare state needs to address, and how.
Another important perspective of this course concerns the emotional consequences of welfare reform: the moral and social complexity of the emotions involved in lived experiences of welfare reform, which is studied through a sociological lens.


There is a mixed format with lectures, guest lectures and student participation. The participation of students includes individual tasks, group work, peer review and self-study.
The structure of the format is the same every week. The first three hours are plenary sessions, wherein we start with lectures on the weekly theme, occasionally followed by a guest lecture from someone active in the field.
The third hour is devoted to student’s presentations, wherein they critically discuss the literature of the week. After this we have two hours of workgroups; the first hour we will discuss the literature; the second hour is reserved for working on student papers, based on ongoing peer review.


Next to structural attendance, active involvement and weekly exercises, there are two key assignments:

  1. Scientific paper (75% of final grade): Students are assigned to write a scientific paper wherein they show proof of understanding of the course literature. Students may choose a topic of their own interest, which allows them to critically discuss welfare state policies and welfare state change through a philosophical and sociological lens.
  2. Group presentation (25% of final grade): On a weekly basis, students are responsible to give a presentation, and critically review the literature and compare different authors and viewpoints in relation to an overriding empirical and/or philosophical question.

and other prescribed

Obligatory reading:

  • UvH Workbook + required articles/book chapters (available on ELO or in the library)
  • Fraser, N. and A. Honneth (2003) Redistribution or Recognition? A political-philosophical exchange. London/New York: Verso.
Recommended literature:

  • Thompson, S. (2006) The Political Theory of Recognition: A Critical Introduction.

The recommended articles are enlisted in the course book.

Philosophical, vocational and academic training

This course provides a contribution to philosophical, vocational and academic training. First, its aim is to teach students the importance of the social contract in society, as embodied in Marshallian social rights of citizenship in welfare states. It questions the need for and underlying normative principles of the welfare state. The course particularly focuses on how recent socio-economic changes have put pressure on welfare state futures, demanding a changing moral compass. Second, the course prepares students for professional jobs wherein they have to establish and maintain client relations under the pressures of increasing demands and shrinking resources, facing the dual challenge of redistribution and recognition. Last, the written assignment, peer review scheme and weekly group presentation enable students to develop their presentation and writing skills, receiving feedback from teachers and fellow students.  

Coherence with other courses

After course H3 that provided an introduction to undergraduates in organizational thinking, and Organization 1 (a deepening and widening in watching organizations), in Organization 2 we present a concrete framework, the transformation of the welfare state, in which critical reflection on organizations their functions, dysfunctions, normative principles and mechanisms of change can be further elaborated and applied, in a comparative perspective.


1-OR10 To be known: the content of course Organization 1

Relationship education and research

On the one hand, this study unit built on knowledge gained in research, on the other hand, students are encouraged to develop their own focus in research in connection to welfare state reform.

theory - practice

The course connects theory about the welfare state and the concepts redistribution and recognition with practice through guest lectures by welfare professionals and welfare clients and/or their representatives who are at the center of the transformation of the welfare state and through the weekly exercises that connect the literature to recent policy documents and/or policy debates on the transformation of the Dutch welfare state.

Opportunities for specialization

In the paper assignment, students can choose a topic according to their own developed interests. This allows them to specialize and gain more insight into redistribution/recognition issues that are specific for the welfare domain/social issue they address in their papers.