Academic Catalog


Foothill College Course Outline of Record

Foothill College Course Outline of Record
Heading Value
Units: 5
Hours: 5 lecture per week (60 total per quarter)
Degree & Credit Status: Degree-Applicable Credit Course
Foothill GE: Area IV: Social & Behavioral Sciences
Transferable: CSU/UC
Grade Type: Letter Grade (Request for Pass/No Pass)
Repeatability: Not Repeatable

Student Learning Outcomes

  • Students will compare differences and similarities between sociology and social work.
  • Students will be able to classify the field of social work into its component parts.
  • Students will analyze the socio-historical development of American social welfare philosophy.


Sociological perspective of social welfare and the social services system as a field of study and profession. Historical overview of social problems and development of the professional fields. Focus on range of sociological theory to explain development of social services systems, their core concepts, value systems and methods.

Course Objectives

The student will be able to:
A. analyze and compare a range of sociological theories as they relate to social welfare and persistent social problems.
B. recognize a range of persistent social problems, from poverty to substance abuse.
C. examine the historical development of social welfare systems as responses to social problems.
D. sketch the development of field of social services as a profession.
E. illustrate contemporary social issues and problems and responses of social welfare systems.
F. compare methods of the discipline as based in core concepts, values and ethics (as rooted in human diversity and social justice).
G. analyze the foundations of government and other community social services.
H. evaluate the development of government laws and social policies as they relate to social welfare services and people's roles in shaping social policy.
I. compare Western and Non-Western approaches to social welfare services.
J. synthesize current issues, controversies and conflicts affecting social services.

Course Content

A. Social Services in Historical Perspective
1. English and Elizabethan poor laws
2. Colonial Period
3. Civil War Period
4. Progressive Era
5. New Deal Era
6. Great Society Era
7. Welfare Reform Era
B. Sociological Theory, Social Problems and Social Services
1. Sociological theoretical paradigms and the social roots of inequality
2. Structural Functionalism (i.e., Comte, Durkheim, Parsons, Alexander)
3. Symbolic Interactionism (i.e., Cooley, Mead and the Chicago School, Weber, Thomas, Tonnies, Lemert)
4. Social Conflict (i.e., Marx, Addams, W.E.B. DuBois, William J. Wilson)
5. Feminist (i.e., Coolidge, Smith, Gilman, Martineau, Bernard)
6. Social Constructionism (i.e., Berger, Shutz)
7. Post-Modernism (i.e., Foucault)
C. The Development of the Field and Profession
1. Core concepts
a. Strength based approach
b. Family centered approach
c. Empowerment
d. Valuing human dignity
e. Valuing cultural diversity
f. Valuing cultural sensitivity
2. Varying models of helping relationships
3. Characteristics of effective helpers
4. Ethical and professional issues
D. Social Problems
1. Social stratification
2. Race, ethnicity, racism and racial stratification
3. Sexism, sexuality, homophobia and gender stratification
4. Poverty, privilege and the distribution of wealth and valued resources
5. The feminization of poverty
6. Age and ageism
7. Violence/domestic violence
8. Problems to do with families
9. Substance abuse
10. Mental and/or physical disability
11. Institutionalization
12. Geographical issues
13. Social mobility
14. Stress
E. Social Policy and Planning
1. Emergence of social policy
2. Development of, and changes in, social services policy
3. Social planning for social services
4. Research in social services
5. Government responses to social problems
6. Social welfare for the rich, middle income and the poor
F. Trends, Controversies and Issues in Social Welfare
1. Welfare reform
2. Child welfare policies - adoptions and family care/safe families act
3. Immigration issues
G. Building Community and Progressive Societies through Social Services and Social Welfare
1. Social movements
2. Poor people's movements
3. Civil and human rights movements
4. Models and meanings of civil societies
5. Best practice models - building on family strengths/family conferencing models
6. Community organization and social advocacy

Lab Content

Not applicable.

Special Facilities and/or Equipment

When taught as a distance learning section, students and faculty need ongoing and continuous Internet and Email access.

Method(s) of Evaluation

May include, but are not limited to:
A. Class discussions
B. Active learning exercises
C. Oral presentations
D. Critical essay(s)
E. Examinations or quizzes

Method(s) of Instruction

Lecture and discussion.

Representative Text(s) and Other Materials

Kirst-Ashman, Karen K. Introduction to Social Work and Social Welfare: Critical Thinking Perspectives. Belmont, CA: Cengage, 2017.

Karger, H.J., and David Stoesz. American Social Welfare Policy: A Pluralist Approach. New Jersey: Pearson, 2014.

Day, Phyllis J. A New History of Social Welfare. New Jersey: Pearson, 2013.

Stern, Mark, and June Axinn. Social Welfare: A History of the American Response to Need. 8th ed. New Jersey: Pearson, 2012. (This is current, relevant and topical.)


Types and/or Examples of Required Reading, Writing, and Outside of Class Assignments

A. College level readings from primary and secondary sources.

B. College level writing assignments based on primary and secondary source reflection and/or analysis.