Oslo Summer School in Comparative Social Science Studies 2006

Poverty, Social Exclusion and Modernity

Lecturer: Professor Simon Schwartzman,
Institute for Studies of Labour and Society in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Main discipline: Sociology, Social Policy, Education Studies

Dates: 25 - 28 July 2006
Course Credits: 10 pts (ECTS)
Limitation: 30 participants


The course will examine how modern societies have generated and interpreted questions of poverty and social exclusion, both in Europe and the US and in developing countries, how these issues are being debated now, and the kinds of policies are being proposed to deal with them, particularly in the developing world. . More often than not, examples will be taken from Latin America. Themes to be discussed include the notions of “classes dangereuses” and the lumpenproletariat in Europe; the English debates on poverty; slavery, capitalism; conservative modernization and marginality; social exclusion and fascism; the underclass debate in the US; race and religion; the current debates on globalization; social exclusion human rights; and an overview of current policy alternatives and proposals. The emphasis will be on the broad picture, rather than on the detailed analysis of specific topics. It will be an interdisciplinary course, based on readings in history, economics, sociology, political science and literature.

Reading requirements are the conference texts and one additional reading paper or chapter for each day or class. Additional bibliography can be found at the end of the outline. Readings marked with * is mandatory for the lectures, all students are required to have read these texts in advance of the course. .



Items in this outline/reading list marked with * will be found in the course compendium and sent to the participants in advance for preparations.

Part I - The Roots

Lecture 1: Introduction to the course. Industrialization, modernity and poverty. The causes of wealth

A presentation of the classic notions of modernity, as a concept that emerges together with the industrial revolution. Why some countries become rich, while others remain poor? Is it a function of technology, social capital, or some other factor?


Lecture 2: Poverty and industrial development in Europe at the onset of modernization

Poverty was not a creation of the industrial revolution, but was intensified and modified by it. What were the links between poverty and industrialization? How did the European countries succeed in breaking these links?


Lecture 3: Colonialism and dependency

The spread of the Industrial Revolution, from Europe to the rest of the world, created new forms of poverty and new ideologies and interpretations about how to deal with them.


Lecture 4: The effects of poverty and social exclusion

If poverty is not just a consequence of economic exploitation, but also associated with social exclusion, is there a specific culture of poverty, common to different societies and populatons?


Part II - Globalization

Lecture 5: The globalization debate

Globalization is not new, but there is a current debate about its more contemporary features and impact. What are the main effects of globalization? Is the world getting poorer? Is the divide between rich and poor nations getting worse?


Lecture 6: The end of work

Technological innovation has always led to the destruction of old labor practices, and the creation of new ones. However, there are those at argue that the current trend is difference, since the jobs which are being destroyed are not being replaced by new ones. Are we witnessing the end of work?


Lecture 7: The knowledge society

Is it true that globalization is associated with the creation of a new, knowledge-based society? What are the effects and impact of the knowledge society in the way the countries try to deal with issues of education, science and technology?


Part III - Dealing with poverty and human rights

Lecture 8: Poverty, citizenship and human rights

Increasingly, issues of poverty and human rights are transcending national boundaries, and shaping the policies of international institutions, social movements and country movements. What is the impact of this trend on the ways policies are being shaped and implemented?


Lecture 9: The new social policy agendas

The failure of traditional policy-making to deal with the issues of policy is generating the search for a new generation of social policies, with less government, more social empowerment, targeting of resources to the more deprived groups. IN Europe, "social cohesion became a central concern. What are the effects of these changes?


Lecture 10: Modernity, post-modernity, development and democracy

The failures of modernity, with all its institutional and technological trappings, to end poverty, has raised the issue of whether the modernity agenda is exhausted, and needs to be replaced by a new, post-modern social and political agenda.


Bibliographic references you may find useful:


The Lecturer

Professor Simon Schwartzman is President of the Institute for Studies of Labour and Society in Rio de Janeiro (Instituto de Estudos do Trabalho e Sociedade, IETS) in Brazil.

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