Track Politics, Policy and Societal Development

The track ‘Politics, Policy and Societal Development’ gives you a different perspective on sustainable development based on the theories and methods pertinent to this discipline. This specialization address societal issues and sustainable development from a sociological perspective.


  • The course “Social Changes and Sustainable Development” provides an overview of social changes and sociodemographic dynamics, which lead to social inequalities and introduce the need for policies and social structures that are able to translate economic growth into social development.
  • The course “Social Policy and Social Risks” addresses the topic of social policy and welfare states. Against the backdrop of global challenges and widespread socio-economic changes, this course sheds light on how various ‘welfare regime types’ have developed over time in different countries, reflective of different concepts of social solidarity and leading to varied outcomes in terms of economic well-being (poverty, life chances), stratification patterns (inequality), and life-course risks and their consequences.

  • The course “Hybrid Organizations” introduces the role of hybrid organizations and social entrepreneurship, and considers various organizational models and initiatives that may strengthen policy actions in tackling social issues and improving sociodemographic indicators.

  • The course “Politics and Society in Comparative Perspective” develops a cross-country analyses of politics and societies, particularly focusing on the rise of populistic groups and of populistic rhetoric. This is particularly relevant in the GMSI perspective to understand the consequences of social inequities at political level, and across societies and to frame appropriate interventions.
  • Throughout the program, master’s seminars will prepare students to their Master’s thesis, which will focus on a GMSI-related topic.

Program track Politics, Policy and Societal Development (60 ECTS)

The one-year program of the GMSI track Politics, Policy and Societal Development consists of 60 ECTS, divided into four units from the end of August to the end of June.

Unit 1: End of August – October

Unit 2: End of October – January

Unit 3: End of January – March

Unit 4: End of March – June


Department of Sociology

The Department of Sociology is known for her research and teaching expertise in:

  • Poverty, inequality and comparative social policy
    • Poverty and unemployment are persistent and complex problems that involve multiple causes, both economic and cultural and on an individual and contextual level and ask for both assistance and activation policies; homeownership is an increasing source of economic inequality in society and these housing inequalities are a challenge for policy makers and social scientists;
  • Development and economic growth
    • Economic growth translates into development – defined as improvement of socio-demographic indicators – only through appropriate political structures and policies. Crucial is the redistribution of growth across socioeconomic strata of societies.
  • Ethno-cultural differences and their social drivers and consequences
    • Ethnic diversity enriches our culture, yet also pose recurring problems and challenges to current day societies
  • Social cohesion
    • Policy makers try to steer upon the presumed decline of social cohesion in society, yet fail to acknowledge new forms of social cohesion between people, for example through new social media. How social cohesion changes precisely, by which factors such a process is driven, and how important forms of solidarity (e.g. care for elderly) can be sustained, are important future challenges that need to addressed to promote sustainable development. Social cohesion can be best understood through the concepts of social capital and networks, and through the study of related theories and empirical methods of analysis.
  • Comparative politics and policies, and in the analysis of current political trends across countries, such as populistic movements and rhetoric.
  • And finally in Social entrepreneurship and hybrid organizations.

All Master's programs

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