One of the central motivations of social policy is to solve social problems. Which policies are seen as necessary for that, depends on existing ideas about the causes of these problems and their solutions. In this project, we ask whether in public debates social problems are increasingly understood as being caused by individual medical and psychological factors. Furthermore, we investigate what the consequences are of this development for social policy and its target groups:

  • Which opportunities derive from a “therapeutic social policy”: does it get to the bottom of the problem, is it more effective and a strategy towards empowerment?
  • Which challenges result from a focus on health and self-competence: does it lead to an individualization of responsibility, a stigmatization of target groups and erosion of social solidarity?

The project analyzes the medicalization and psychologization of three problems: poverty, unemployment and developmental problems in early childhood with a series of empirical studies.

Project plan (2017-2020)