Course syllabus




                                                                                        Well-being always comes first

We all go through tough times during the semester, or see our friends struggling. There is lots of help out there - for more information, look at this Canvas page, which has links to various support services in the University and the wider community.



Kia ora koutou!  Welcome to SOCIOL 103


UPDATE 8/10/20

The University is returning to face-to-face teaching on campus from Thursday 8 October.  This includes all tutorials and lectures.

However, recognising that some of you may be immune-compromised or otherwise uncomfortable returning to campus, I am happy for any student to attend the offshore student tutorial I hold at 3pm on Wednesdays.

Passcode: 123456


All office hours will continue at their normal times but will remain online except for Jo (who will continue to meet in SSB 4th floor student hub).  You will find links below for me and each tutor.


ERICA  - same link for TO1 Mon 9am, T02 Mon 10am, T03 Mon 12pm, TO4 1-2pm, office hours Tues 10-11am 

Erica will use 'waiting room' and manually let everyone into the tutorial, so no passcode needed

GENE -  same link for T07 Wed 4pm, T15  Wed 3pm, T16  Wed 1-2pm and T17  Thurs 2pm, office hours Tues 12-1pm
Passcode: 774786
JOANNA - same link for T05 Mon 3pm, TO6 Mon 4pm, T10 Thurs 12pm,  T11 Thurs 1pm,  office hours Thurs 2-3pm
Join Zoom Meeting
Passcode: 348434


GENEVIEVE - same link for T09 Wed 10am, T12 Tues 2pm, T13 Tues 12pm, T14 Wed 12pm, office hours Wed 11-12pm

Passcode: 540066

Lectures:               Monday 8-9am, General Library, Room B28

                                        Tuesday 9-10am, General Library, Room B28

Course delivery format:

2 hours of lectures and 1 hour of tutorial (times must be viewed through SSO)

Course staff: 

Lecturer - Dr. Louise Humpage -

Office hour:  Returned to 9-10am Monday but outside the B28 lecture room - for 12 October only I will also hold an office hour 3-4PM MONDAY ON ZOOM at

Passcode: 123456

Tuakana mentor - Penina Clarke -

Office hour: Tuesday 1-2pm

Workshops: Tuesday 2-3pm (in the Tuakana room, 201E-502)

Tutors - Gene Kiely -      Office hour:  Tuesday 12-1

                  Joanna Tindling -    Office hour:  Thursday  2-3pm (tutor for offshore students)

                  Erica Lee -    Office hour:  Tuesday 10-11am

                  Genevieve Grava -     Office hour: Wednesday 11-12pm

ALL TUTOR OFFICE HOURS WILL BE HELD IN THE SOCIAL SCIENCES BUILDING  4th FLOOR STUDENT HUB STUDY SPACE (just outside Arts Students Centre).  To find out which tutor takes which tutorial slot, please click here.

Tutors are available to respond to questions about the course and assignments but these are best answered in tutorials or in the tutors’ regular office hours. Tutors are not paid to answer email enquiries. Please show manaaki / respect for tutors by not expecting them to respond to long or multiple questions by email or to emails outside of normal university hours (including weekend and evenings). It is University policy that staff respond only to University of Auckland email addresses (e.g. when contacted by students. This includes correspondence about extensions. 

Student representatives -  Evalesi -

                                                        - Joanna   -

                                                        - Zuhaa -

Feel free to contact the student representatives about any issue with the course if you don't feel comfortable approaching a tutor or Louise directly. 


Summary of Course Description:              

This course provides an overview of key contemporary social policy issues within the context of globalising economic processes and continuing gendered and racialised divisions.  It will discuss the way in which debates around social policy are constructed and the implications this has for social justice.  Case studies this year will include inequality, children and ethnic diversity.

The first section of the course introduces key concepts and theoretical perspectives crucial to the study of social policy.  This sets the scene for a series of case studies focusing on current social policy challenges in New Zealand and elsewhere.  The course will conclude with a brief consideration of the potential for social policy to facilitate social justice.

The course aims to:

  • Introduce students to concepts and categories central to contemporary debates in social policy and political sociology;
  • Demonstrate that social policy issues are always complex and contested, as a result of different theoretical or value viewpoints about both the ‘problem’ and the ‘solution’;
  • Encourage students to engage in a rigorous examination of contemporary social policy issues using critical thinking skills.

Course outcomes:

At the completion of the course, the student should be able to demonstrate:

  • Mōhio/knowledge, insight or wisdom about contemporary social policy issues in New Zealand within a broad theoretical context;
  • Wahapū / eloquence or articulateness in speaking/writing about a topic;
  • Manaaki / respect or care shown to others, including the opinion of others, in lectures, tutorials and written assignments;
  • Rangatiratanga / independence as a learner, taking responsibility to act as rangatira (leaders) of your own learning process by developing a structured study plan so you keep up with course content and submit assignments on time wherever possible and by practicing academic integrity skills;
  • Ngā pūkenga rangahau / specific research skills appropriate to a policy-focused course. These include:
    • Gathering and synthesising concepts and ideas from a wide range of academic and other relevant sources;
    • Analysing data (including in tables and graphs) using critical thinking skills;
    • Assessing and summarising alternative ways of thinking about policy problems.

Course kaupapa (guiding principles):

Whanaungatanga - Whakapapa is a conceptual orientation whereby we acknowledge the intergenerational interconnectedness of all things. Flowing from our understanding of whakapapa we acknowledge the importance of building and maintaining relationships, care for each other, and working collectively. 

Mana - The combination of our power and ability to act as well as a measure of our social standing. Our actions should acknowledge and enhance the mana of ourselves and others. There are consequences for actions that fail to do so. 

Rangatiratanga - In full acknowledgement of our interconnectedness we also maintain our independence as learners and our responsibility to act as rangatira (leaders) of our learning process. Good leadership also takes account of the needs, abilities, and mana of the group.

Class responsibilities:

It is the duty of everybody in the classroom to uphold the individual and collective mana of the group. Our actions, including speech, should acknowledge and enhance the mana of ourselves and others. There are consequences for actions that fail to do so. Actions that diminish the mana of others include any practice which aims at bullying, excluding, marginalizing, harassing, discriminating against, rendering insecure, exploiting, criminalizing, terrorizing, or harbouring exterminatory fantasies against an identity group of people imagined as sharing a common determining feature. Speech or actions that are, for example, knowingly racist, sexist, ableist, ageist, homophobic or transphobic are completely unacceptable in the classroom.     

While free speech is a fundamental right in a democracy and we encourage respectful debate and discussion of diverse ideas, an abstract idea of free speech in general cannot and must not be used as a cover for specific instances of hateful speech or discrimination. Students in the course are expected to respect all other students and staff. If you witness hate speech or discrimination you are encouraged to raise this with the lecturer, your tutor or the University Proctor.

Support services and dealing with problems and complaints:

We want to support your academic success as much as possible. Please click here to find out more about how the university might be able to help support your study and the appropriate processes to follow if you have a problem or complaint.

Assessment Summary:

10% theory quiz in Week 4-5 (note this won't show in 'assignments' until I open the quiz for answers) 

10% essay plan which must be submitted between the second week of the mid-semester break and Week 7

30% 2000 word essay due Week 10

50% 2 hour exam

Click on each assessment for more details about each 

Prescribed Texts:

A course reader (needed for tutorials) is available for free by clicking on 'readings lists'

Workload and deadlines for submission of coursework:           

ALL assignments must be submitted to electronically in Canvas by 4pm on the due date. You do NOT need to submit a hardcopy.

The University of Auckland's expectation is that students spend 10 hours per week on a 15-point course, including time in class and personal study. Students should manage their academic workload and other commitments accordingly. You should submit your work on time if at all possible BUT:

  • Extensions are possible if, for example, you or a family member falls ill, or some other circumstance beyond your control prevents you from completing your work. Practicing manaakitanga means that we need to respect and care for others and sometimes their needs will outweigh your own (for example, your assignment deadlines).  We understand this.  But manaakitanga also means respecting that the teaching staff also have deadlines to meet, so do please try your hardest to get work in on time!
    • You can apply for an extension by contacting Louise Humpage via email ( You will likely need to provide supporting information, like a doctor’s or counsellor’s certificate, but the important thing is to get in contact.
    • Ideally extensions should be requested before the due date. However, please contact me if extenuating circumstances mean you could not apply before the assignment was due. I will treat these on a case-to-case basis.
  • Normally workload (relating to either study or paid work) is not a reason for an extension because it is not usually unexpected and you should be able to manage your time to meet both paid work and study obligations. 
    • However, if you contact me within the first three weeks of class with evidence of multiple assignments due at the same time as a 103 assignment or planned paid work trips etc at the same time as a 103 assignment, then I am happy to negotiate a revised due date so you can better manage your time.  Contacting me in this regard is a sign of rangatiratanga because you are taking ownership of your own learning :)
  • Late submission of coursework is possible without an extension, so long as you are ready to accept a penalty by losing marks. Late penalties help ensure fairness; otherwise some students would have more time to complete work than others.
    • The penalties for submitting work late when you do not have an extension are 2% per day (including weekends, given electronic submission is available), with no coursework being accepted if more than seven days late.
    • Everyone confronts difficulties at some point. So please talk to or email me if you are experiencing troubles finishing or submitting coursework. I will work with you wherever possible and, of course, it is better to get an assignment in than not at all (even if it is incomplete).

Weekly Topics for Lectures and Tutorials:

  • Lecture notes will become available the Friday before lectures and can be found by clicking on the lecture titles below and by going to Canvas ‘modules’ – ‘lecture slides’.
  • Lecture audio/video will be recorded and posted next to each lecture title within a day of the lecture and on Canvas under ‘recordings’.

Section 1: Introduction

Week 1

27 July       Introduction

What do we mean by social policy and social justice?

How does sociology help us understand debates about social policy?

28 July         Social policy and values

What is critical thinking?

How do values shape different understandings of social justice and social policy solutions?


  • Introductions (including with Arts + mentors), questions/clarifications
  • What contributions can I bring to this course?
  • How can I make the most of this course?

Week 2

3 August         Political sociology theory 1: Liberalism, Marxism, social democracy

How do these theories differently view social justice and its solutions?

4 August         Political sociology theory 2:  Feminism, anti-racism

Revision quiz on last lecture

How do these theories differently view social justice and its solutions?


  • Critical thinking exercise
  • Discussion about:

Humpage, L. (2015). The shift from Keynesianism to neoliberalism and the impact on New Zealand society.  Unpublished paper supplied by lecturer.

Week 3

10 August       Political sociology theory 3: Neoliberalism, Third Way, environmentalism

Revision quiz on last lecture 

How do these theories differently view social justice and its solutions?

Theory quiz information sheet distributed

Section 2:  Contemporary challenges



Recent OECD statistics, United Nations reports and the 2017 election all situated growing inequality and poverty as key policy issues. This section considers significant political, economic and social shifts that have contributed to these problems and differing views on their ‘solutions’.

Week 3

11 August       Income inequality  

Why has income inequality increased faster in New Zealand than other countries?

Should we be worried about income inequality?


  • Quiz revision and preparation
  • Discussion about:

Cheyne, C., O’Brien, M. and Belgrave, M. (2008). Social policy in Aotearoa New Zealand: A critical introduction. 4th edition. Auckland: Oxford University Press (chapter 5 only).

Week 4         

17 August       Debt and economic growth

What is debt, who has it and what relationship does it have with economic growth?

Will increasing levels of debt as a result of Covid-19 be bad for New Zealand?

18 August       Unemployment (Vanessa Cole)

What values and assumptions have driven policy for the unemployed in recent years?

How does the Welfare Expert Advisory Group’s focus on dignity for the unemployed challenge these assumptions?

Theory quiz on first 3 weeks lectures/readings must be completed between Monday 17 August 9am and Thursday 27 August 4pm


Week 5

24 August       Non-standard work 

How has the nature of work fundamentally changed over the last three decades?

Has the shift towards ‘non-standard’ work challenged the gendered division of labour?

25 August       The working poor

Why are an increasing proportion of working New Zealanders unable to make ends meet?

Would a Living Wage or Universal Basic Income help?


Week 6

31 August        Essay workshop

How are you expected to engage with the five Bacchi approach questions?

How do you use material from the course reader and library to write the essay?

Essay plan/essay information sheet distributed


Every day we hear about another case of child abuse, bullying in schools or how child poverty is impacting the poor health of New Zealand children.  A lot of blame is put on parents but are they the only or real causes of this problem?  This section considers recent policy and social/economic shifts that shape family form and functioning and thus child outcomes today.

Week 6

1 September    Child poverty 

Why has the Labour-led government placed a strong focus on child poverty in New Zealand?

Knowing what we do from international experience, will its policies actually reduce child poverty?


  • Preparing your essay plan
  • Discussion about:

Rua, M. et al. (2019). Precariat Māori households today. Te Arotahi 2(May), 1-15.


Essay plan assignment can be submitted anytime between Monday 14 September 9am and Tuesday 22 September 4pm

Week 7

21 September Child abuse and neglect 

Did the previous National-led government’s focus on ‘vulnerable children’ reduce child abuse and neglect?

Will the current Labour-led government’s changes to child protection make a difference?


22 September   Legitimising whanaungatanga to improve child safety (Nicola Harrison)

What is whanaungatanga and how does it shape Māori ways of doing family?

How would better and formal recogniton of whanaungatanga improve the safety of children within Māori families?


  • Brainstorming five essay topics – all questions
  • Discussion about:

Boston, J. and Chapple, S. (2014). Child poverty in New Zealand. Wellington: Bridget Williams Books.

Video on Universal Basic Income (played in class)

Week 8

28 September  Social determinants of child health  

What are the most important factors influencing the health outcomes of children? 

What would be the most appropriate focus for policy as a result?

29 September  Child obesity: The new epidemic? (Aimee Simpson)         

How has recent policy framed child obesity as both a personal responsibility and a public health issue?

How does a Fat Studies frame challenge this understanding of child obesity?


  • Making sure you meet all the essay requirements – Please bring along a copy of the course outline.
  • Discussion about:

Murphy, C., Paton, N., Gulliver, P., Fanslow, J. (2013). Policy and practice implications: Child maltreatment, intimate partner violence and parenting. Auckland: New Zealand Family Violence Clearinghouse. Retrieved from:


The 2018 Census highlighted that New Zealand is quickly becoming more ethnically diverse.  This makes the country a culturally vibrant place to live but also brings with it significant policy challenges. This section considers some of these challenges and potential solutions.

Week 9

5 October        Closing the gaps?                        

Why is a focus on the socio-economic gaps between Māori and non-Māori not enough?

How does a focus on the political gaps between Māori and the state reorient social policy?

6 October        Whānau Ora (Charlotte Moore)

What is Whānau Ora and how might it improve Māori well-being?

                        What theoretical challenges can be made to such an approach?

Essay preparation session held this week in Arts Student Centre


  • Last minute writing and referencing exercise - Please bring to tutorial: Two references you plan to include in your essay, formatted as correctly as possible according to APA 6 referencing style (this is a good chance to bring along tricky ones you’re not sure how to format!) OR the introduction paragraph to your essay.
  • Discussion about:

Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. (2019). Child and youth wellbeing strategy. Retrieved from

Video about mindfulness programmes in schools (played in class)

Essay due Monday, 12 October 4pm

Week 10                 

12 October      Welcome to New Zealand?

What tensions exist between New Zealand’s immigration policy and employment frameworks?

How do these tensions shape the lived experiences of new migrants?

13 October      Māori and Pasifika youth in the justice system (Tamasailau     Suaalii-Sauni?)

How do Māori and Pasifika youth experience the justice system?

How can Māori and Pasifika values and concepts reshape justice to improve outcomes for young people?


  • Exam revision exercise (short answer questions) - Please bring downloads from the course reader and your lecture notes for this course to the tutorial so you can brainstorm concepts for the short-answer part of the exam.
  • Discussion about:

Came, H., McCreanor, T., Manson, L. & Nuku, K. (2019). Upholding Te Tiriti, ending institutional racism and Crown inaction on health equity. New Zealand Medical Journal 132(1492): 61-66.

Video on success factors for tribal self-determination in the United States (played in class)

Week 11

19 October      Biculturalism in a multicultural society

How unique is New Zealand’s way of dealing with increasing ethnic diversity?

How could we resolve the tensions between a nominally bicultural policy framework and an increasingly multicultural population?

20 October      Social policy, social justice?

In revisiting the key themes of the course, how can we make sense of continuing injustice in New Zealand today?

What does this injustice tell us about policy priorities – and how we might change them?


  • Exam technique exercise (data analysis question)

Discussion about:

Mila-Schaef, K. & and Hudson, M. (2009). The interface between cultural understandings:

Negotiating new spaces for Pacific mental health. Pacific Health Dialog 15(1): 113-119.

Video on rangatahi courts (played in class)

Section 3:  Conclusions

Week 12       

26 October      No lecture – Labour Day

27 October      Exam revision

Basic information about the exam will be given out and this will be uploaded to Canvas afterwards but most of the lecture will be devoted to revision – this lecture will not be recorded so make sure you attend!

Exam information sheet distributed


  • Exam technique exercise (essay question) - Please bring along all downloads from the course reader and your lecture notes for this course to the tutorial so you can brainstorm the essay part of the exam.
  • Discussion about:

Videos on multiculturalism (played in class)


Course summary:

Date Details Due