1. Course Rationale

This course explores the context of and range of strategies for social action work within the welfare state. Over the past two decades, global capitalism has rapidly expanded and the welfare state--like other welfare states--has contracted. Also welfare has been reoriented to promote economic development which does not protect human rights or even satisfy basic survival needs. To redress these changes and to prevent further disadvantage, strategies of advocacy and social action are required. The course will attempt to examine some of the root causes of the crisis and evaluate action plans, which draw upon various models of empowerment theory and practice. Particular attention will be focused upon the Paulo Freire conceptual framework as it applies to organizing models in working class communities. This is both a theoretical and a practical course which teaches to critique social movements and the different concepts of the welfare state they correspond to, and to advocate for social change. The course will explore both the potential and the limitations of advocacy and social action. Different conceptions of power and protest are part of this exploration and the 'tools', skills and strategies of social action and will be examined. Understanding competing interests and building alliances is part of advocacy and will be included in the strategies taught. Ethical issues are also considered. The course will include 'everyday' acts of action and advocacy as well as large-scale campaigns. The starting point for this course is a commitment to equity, social justice and human rights. Critical reflection is an important part of the course and hence students will be asked to consider their values, beliefs and attitudes towards advocacy and social action.

2. Learner's Objective

  • To acquaint students with an understanding of theoretical underpinnings and historical contexts of social action and advocacy in a range of fields;

  • To familiarise students with an understanding of social action and advocacy;

  • To equip students with an in-depth understanding of the skills and strategies used in advocacy and social action;

  • To engage students in an in-depth awareness of how personal values, beliefs, attitudes and preferred communication styles/practices which impact on advocacy and social action work.

  • Demonstrate an understanding of complex advocacy decisions that include ethics, organisational constraints and legal issues

    Guest Faculty: Dr. Samata Pandya, Prof. Vijay Raghavan and Dr. Mahesh Kamble


Social work practitioners and human rights activists working with marginalized groups are grappling with contemporary debates in criminal justice such as access to justice, processing of marginalised groups and the increasing use of technology in detection, investigation and prevention of crime. This course will engage with ethical dilemmas around issues such as euthanasia, capital punishment, forensic investigation techniques which need a deeper understanding and analysis. It will also look into the growing menace of cyber crime and the efficacy of related laws to deal with the same.


1.            To help students get an overview of the structure of and hierarchy within the different wings of the CJS.

2.            To help students understand issues relating to access to justice and processing of  marginalised groups within the CJS.

3.            To introduce students to forensic sciences and medico-legal aspects of crime investigation.

4.            To help students develop a critical understanding about the use of new technologies in crime investigation and criminal justice processing.

5.            To introduce students to the growing dimensions of cyber crime and discuss the efficacy of laws to deal with the same.

Course Content Summary (as to appear in the Prospectus)

Neo-liberalism and the penal welfare regime, risk society and the surveillance State, use of technology for prevention and detection of crimes, cyber crimes, capital punishment, legalisation of prostitution,  terrorism and counter-terrorism measures, New age corruption and other emerging contemporary issues.

The course introduces students to history and emergence of correctional policies, legislation, procedures and interventions by the State and civil society. It highlights correctional legislation and practices relevant to certain marginalised groups, and also critically analyses social, cultural, economic and political processes that criminalise these groups leading to their victimisation and/or social exclusion. The students will be exposed to initiatives aiming at reforming correctional policies and procedures, emerging legislations, trends towards social inclusion of marginalised populations and current debates.

This course introduces students to the issues and challenges in the field of criminology, custodial justice and corrections. Criminal justice settings are typically characterized by situations that reflect a conflict between the citizen and the State and society or some part of it. This conflict gets manifested through enactment of laws that infringe on the life and liberty of citizens and may involve taking individuals into protective or penal custody. These 'involuntary clients' are forced by those around them, such a parents, neighbours, and police, to seek counselling, get custodialised or take help of social service agencies. There is also the issue of protection of basic human and legal rights of these citizens while they are in custody. 

 Custodialisation or legal processing (whether as victims or as offenders), leads to social stigma and discrimination. In such situations, it requires a social work response based on dynamics of the situation rather than on the needs of individuals involved. This course will prepare students to respond to typical practice situations in criminal justice settings vis a vis clients, functionaries, families and the community.




  1. To familiarise students with the need for specialized skills and tools to work in the field of criminology, custodial justice, corrections and rehabilitation.


  1. To develop a theoretical understanding of field realities and awareness of self as an instrument of change.


  1. To orient students to methods such as advocacy, judicial intervention, working with the system, legal awareness and aid, media relations and effective communication in criminal justice.


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The criminology and criminal justice studies emanated largely from the psychology, sociology, political science and related social science disciplines. Because ideological values are the driving force behind the development of political philosophy and sociological theory, this course begins by situating ideology as a major theoretical tool for evaluating and explaining crime, crime theory and criminal justice system. It canvasses the theoretical and empirical literature concerning perspectives of crime and criminology. It aims to reflect on the development of criminology and some unresolved issues. It reflects on the status of the field and delves upon the generalization versus disaggregation approaches and the continuous versus categorical conceptions of variation in crime theories. It emphasizes the changes in each criminological school and captures the implications, limitation and their contribution towards expanding theories and thereby institutionalising change, in the criminal justice arena.

The course would introduce students to the concepts of crime and etiology, and take them through to development of the different schools of criminology from the classical to the radical, critical criminology, neo-marxist and left realism, feminist and post-modernist criminology. It would help them understand the types of crime in a changing and developing socio-economic and political context.


  1. To develop conceptual clarity amongst students about crime in society, its etiology and the debates on the reasons for causation of crime.

  1. To develop critical awareness about the changing face of crime in a 'globalised' world and develop their ability to relate them to a 'localised' environment.

  1. To help students understand the current debates on criminalisation of marginalized groups with a view to intervention within the existing socio-legal framework and work towards changing them wherever necessary.

Course Content Summary (as to appear in the Prospectus)

Definition and patterns of crime - Understanding crime statistics - Theories: Classical and Neo-classical theories, Biological School, Psychological and Psychiatric Foundations, Sociological Theories - from Functionalism to Symbolic Interactionism, Radical and Critical Criminology, Neo-Marxists and Left Realism, Feminist Criminology, Late Modernity and Postmodern Criminology.

With increasing crime in society both in terms of types and levels, there has been a concerted attempt by the State and criminal justice agencies to focus on prevention as a method of reducing crime. Citizen participation in crime prevention is essential if results are to be achieved in this area. Social workers in collaboration with State actors can play a crucial role in involving the community to achieve better results in reducing crime through prevention. This course will focus on groups vulnerable to violence and crime, site specific crimes, and discuss the role that social workers can play in the prevention of such crimes. The course would also focus on development of prevention strategies with regard to specific types of crimes and against specific groups which are particularly vulnerable to victimization.