Return to ESPAnet 2020 Online PhD seminars

Stream Descriptions

  1. Towards the establishment of eco-social welfare systems in Europe?

Denis Bouget
Philippe Pochet

Until recently, social welfare systems in Europe were disconnected from ecological concerns and policies. Objectives, instruments and actors in each of these two fields were largely different and disconnected. Today, we are experiencing a historic moment of synthesis: environmental policies are becoming social policies, and vice versa. This evolution is a conflictual one, involving a mixture of consensus and dissent. For four decades, European social welfare systems have been experiencing retrenchment and decline, with higher selectivity in social benefits, increasing commodification, and marketisation of public provisions. Meanwhile, ecological concerns as well as the design and implementation of eco-social policies develop according to a diverse array of political ideologies, welfare regimes, social and cultural contexts.

The development raises several questions. First, we might wonder whether we can identify models of transition towards new societal scenarios, and how they can be theorised. Second, social and environmental risks as well as the design and implementation of eco-states and eco-social policies (will) have important distributional implications. What are income distributional consequences of various of these policies, and how can they be measured? Third, environmental inequalities become embedded in social ones, making this an issue of justice. This gives rise to the question whether the principles of ‘climate justice’, ‘just transition’ and ‘social justice’ provide a consistent doctrine? Do they lead to integrated or complementary policies? Should these policies be radically rethought in the light of literature about the limits to growth? Fourth, in terms of policy instruments, it can be noted that social policies typically include cash and in-kind benefits, while environmental policies also include intense legislative activity about the production or consumption of certain goods and services. How do these different types of policy instruments create synergies or might conflict with each other?

Finally, policy objectives and instruments largely depend on the interests of actors, and the alliances and conflicts between them. This concerns every level of environmental and social issues, from the global (climate and world poverty) and European levels, to the national (social welfare systems and the principle of subsidiarity) and local (pollution, local public services, etc.) ones. What kind of connections and exchanges are about to develop, if any? And how are the influencing policy design and implementation?

The suggested stream aims to attract research papers addressing questions like those mentioned above. It is open to conceptual, theoretical, methodological, as well as empirical papers.

2. Automation, conditionality and selective universalism in minimum income protection.

Gianluca Busilacchi
Sarah Marchal

Increases in atypical employment and tightening social insurance schemes have increased the relevance of last-resort means-tested minimum income protection in many countries. Social assistance caseloads have been on the increase ever since the crisis in a substantial number of countries. This worrying trend makes questions into the poverty fighting effectiveness of minimum income protection ever more pressing. There are indeed indications that means-tested benefits may be less effective in reaching the intended target groups, due to more punitive thresholds to take-up such as more rigorous means-tests and application procedures, and more stigma associated with claiming a last resort benefit. Over the latest decennia, social assistance schemes have furthermore developed extensive activation and controlling routines, that – to the extent that they are based on a punitive set-up – further discourage (potential) claimants. As social assistance schemes become more prominent, an important challenge for the future is how to combine an effective but human activation with an adequate and accessible minimum income protection.

Automation is often seen as a possible solution to non-take-up. Partial automation could decrease the burden that falls to claimants in the application procedure, and automatic awarding would by definition eliminate most instances of non-take-up. At the same time, scholars (and certain national experiences) warn for adverse effects of automation, including issues with the adequate measuring of incomes among the target group in the age of atypical employment and the lack of appeal procedures, that may ultimately worsen outcomes. Others warn for the impact of automatic awarding of a benefit that should ultimately be checked against work willingness and job search efforts, and hold that such an assessment should be made by professionals. To sum up, automation can be viewed as a mean to make minimum income protection a more payable right. On the other hand, in the last decades the focus of the guaranteed minimum income (GMI) policies has moved from the side of social rights to the side of conditionality. This move has happened especially through the increase of the role of activation measure as a compulsory requirement for recipients, to access the social transfer. How is it possible to conciliate the two aspects, namely the necessity to make minimum income protection an effective social right and the role of conditionality in targeting eligible recipients? Can automation of GMI be an efficient tool to guaranteed a selective universalism of GMI?

This research stream welcomes papers that focus on the interaction of automation, conditionality and selective universalism in GMI policies, both from a local, national or cross-national perspective. Empirical and theoretical papers are both welcome.

3. Big data in social administration and welfare provision: opportunities and risks.

Minna van Gerven
Stefano Sacchi
Manos Matsaganis

The digitalization of procedures for the assessment of claims for benefits and services as well as for the standardization of provision in health and social care, is a crucial dimension of the modernization of welfare states. Nevertheless, increasing reliance on artificial intelligence and big data brings risks as well as opportunities. As shown by recent experience with automated decision-making and algorithmic administration of welfare provision in a variety of countries, these technologies come with numerous improvements to social service delivery. At the same time, there are also great challenges in terms of risks of systematically biased decisions of deservingness, disempowerment of care workers, and the de-humanization of state-citizen relationships.

This panel calls for empirical papers that contribute to a better understanding of the novel technological developments in the field of social administration and welfare provision. We welcome empirical (qualitative or quantitative) contributions that focus on the state of play, process and consequences of automation and digitization in various areas of social and public services.

4. Big data and algorithms in public employment services.

Magnus Paulsen Hansen
Janine Leschke

This stream aims to investigate big data and algorithms in relation to public employment services (PES). An increasing number of PES are experimenting with the use of automated decision making with the aim of improving placement and matching of activation measures (Desiere, Langenbucher and Struyven, 2019). Whereas there are a number of publications targeting these topics with regard to public administration in general (Yeung and Lodge 2019) research focusing on PES is only now emerging. While some of the possibilities and problems of such instruments cross-cut policy-areas others are more specific.

In this stream we thus investigate the implications of introducing big data, artificial intelligence and machine learning in governance systems focusing on unemployed and social assistance recipients. These governance systems have already undergone radical changes over the last three decades including increased emphasize on the activation of the unemployed begging the question of whether and how the use of big data and algorithms further change the existing institutions and logics and whether this development is desirable?

We are interested in contributions focusing on implications for unemployed, case workers and public servants involved in using and/or designing profiling instruments based on big data, AI and algorithms targeted at placement and activation of unemployed or social assistance recipients. This stream is multidisciplinary and papers could address one or more of the following topics: Philosophical and ethical questions (e.g. digital discrimination, categorization in profiling, the relation between machine decisions and human consequences), sociological and anthropological perspectives (e.g. experience of users, foundations and knowledge base for designing profiling instruments, power relations in between the various actors involved), political perspectives (e.g. governance, power and legitimacy) and effects of instruments (social consequences, effectiveness, efficiencies). We encourage single case studies and comparative papers and are interested in both qualitative and quantitative perspectives, as well as more conceptual and theoretical papers.

Desiere, S., K. Langenbucher and L. Struyven (2019), “Statistical profiling in public employment services: An international comparison”, OECD Social, Employment and Migration Working Papers, No. 224, OECD Publishing, Paris,
Yeung, K. and Lodge, M. (eds, 2019) Algorithmic Regulation. Oxford: Oxford University Press

5. Big data and algorithms in social service organisations: Opportunities and restraints for street-level workers.

Martin Brussig
Ida Bring Løberg

Over the last 30 years, a series of social policy reforms took place in Western welfare states. These reforms include substantial changes to the governance of social policy delivery. The implementation of social policy was subjected to new modes of organizational governance, such as, for example, New Public Management and Management by Objectives. Moreover, the idea of tailoring policy outputs to individual needs took ground. In order to transform policy input into an adequate policy output, a number of decisions has to be made and a pool of information needs to be evaluated. At the same time, social policy administration constantly produces large amounts of data, which in turn could help shaping future decisions as well as evaluating the performance of social service workers. Professional experience of case managers could thus be complemented by evidence-based practice stemming from information about what works best. For example, in regard to labour market policy, algorithms can be formed about the future probability of a client to integrate successfully into employment.

Until now, the consequences of the use of IT, big data and algorithms for work and organization of street-level workers in social service organizations have not been analyzed in a systematic and/or comparative manner. This stream therefore aims at taking stock of new studies from different countries. We focus on the public employment service, but consider other areas of social policy administrations as well. We invite papers addressing the following questions:

  • What are the drivers for the implementation of algorithms from a managerial point of view?
  • How do big data technologies change street-level workers’ conception of their own work? And how do these technologies change their conception of clients?
  • How do street-level workers and managers use computer-based profiling technologies? How flexible are these technologies with respect to individual cases?
  • Under which conditions we will see more or less work control and more or less professionalization in social service organizations?
    We have a focus on work place studies, ethnographic approaches and qualitative re-search paradigms and prefer comparative papers, but single case studies are also of interest.

6. Technological change and the future of work.

Patrick Emmenegger
Lina Seitzl

During the last few years, technological innovations that go under the broad rubric of digitization have transformed the world of work. Developments in artificial intelligence, platform-based work, big data analysis, internet-based networks and so forth are transforming labour markets and numerous occupations. Digitization refers to the phenomenon of replacing analogue or physical processes through digital ones. In addition, digitization often denotes how production processes are automatized and how different parts of the producing equipment may be able to communicate among themselves (the so-called Internet of Things).

Technological change creates numerous challenges for labour markets. Because the prize of computer capital declines, computers may increasingly substitute labour. The result is skill-biased technological change, in which high- and low-skilled jobs proliferate due to technological change whereas the number of medium-skilled jobs with tasks prone to automatization will decrease. In addition, digitization simplifies communication channels, which facilitates the outsourcing of routinized tasks to low-cost countries. Lastly, the shift of jobs from the industrial to the service sector is enhanced through technological change. New occupations in the information, communication and technology sector have come into existence and a platform economy has emerged offering jobs for self-employed in the service sector.

The aim of this stream is to contribute to a better understanding of how digitization affects labour markets and the future of work. How can future labour markets be made more inclusive? What factors mediate the effect of digitization on the world of work? Which skills will be needed in future labour markets? What are the politics of work in the digital age? The contributions to this stream should address these and related questions both theoretically and empirically. Methodologically, we are open to a range of different approaches. Contributions from diverse disciplines (e.g. economics, political science, social policy, sociology) are very welcome.

 7. Job quality and occupational health in the era of digitization

Anita Tisch
Nadja Dörflinger

The current debate about digitization and automation is mostly concerned with the substitution of human labour by computers and machines (Frey & Osborne 2017). However, we observe no massive decline in employment due to digital technologies in Europe to date. Nevertheless, the world of work is changing significantly and at high pace. Digitalisation and automation alter employees’ tasks and activities, thereby changing the demands placed on them (OECD 2019) – with possible effects on their job quality and occupational health. Such changes also challenge welfare states, established regulatory institutions and social partnership. Accordingly, new forms of employment (e.g. in the platform economy) and new forms of work (e.g., the massive increase in telework and mobile work) can be performed inside or outside traditional regulatory structures and institutions. This may lead to possible gaps in the regulatory coverage of the workforce and new inequalities.

In this session, we are particularly interested in papers that empirically investigate changes in employment relations as well as work organisation and work demands. We invite contributions addressing the following questions:

  • How are work demands changing in new forms of employment and work? What are the implications for occupational safety and health?
  • How are new forms of employment and work challenging social protection systems and regulatory structures on different levels, particularly with regard to occupational health?
  • Which social groups are able to secure better working conditions and which are especially vulnerable? Why are (new) inequalities evolving?
  • What are the consequences for social partnership and collective representation? How can trade unions and other interest representation organizations promote decent working conditions in a digitalized economy?
  • What are the consequences for (European, national, sectoral and company level) regulatory structures? How can regulation secure decent work within and without the reach of traditional regulatory institutions?

Frey, C.B. and Osborne, M.A. (2017) The future of employment: How susceptible are jobs to computerisation? Technological Forecasting & Social Change 114: 254-280.
OECD (2019) OECD Employment Outlook 2019: The Future of Work. Paris: OECD Publishing.

8. Migration, integration, and the welfare state

Verena Seibel
Karen Breidahl

The recent increase of migration into the European welfare states equally challenges policy advisors, the native population, as well as migrants themselves. Whereas policy advisors face difficulties to integrate migrants into the welfare system, European populations are very sceptical about sharing their welfare resources with newcomers. Moreover, migrants themselves often struggle with accessing welfare services: Whereas migrants tend to use welfare benefits and services more than natives, they do so to a lesser extent than they are entitled to. These challenges, however, do not hit Europe evenly: European countries not only differ in their extent to which they provide migrants access to welfare, but also in natives’ expression of ‘welfare chauvinism’. However, the link between these two phenomena remains unclear. Moreover, little is known about the migrant perspective on this matter. Migrants not only differ in their usage of welfare services and benefits, but also in their attitudes towards the welfare state as well as knowledge about their welfare rights. So far, we still know little how these aspects impact migrants’ integration chances into host societies and how they are linked to the dimensions mentioned above, namely welfare regulations and welfare chauvinism.

We therefore invite papers that explore the topics of migration, integration, and the welfare, whether they study them qualitatively, quantitatively or normatively. Possible topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Cross-country policy differences in granting welfare access to migrant populations
  • Relation between migrants’ welfare usage and natives’ attitudes towards redistributing welfare resources
  • Migrants’ knowledge about welfare rights
  • Consequences of welfare policies, natives’ attitudes towards redistribution, and migrants’ knowledge of their welfare rights for migrants’ integration chances

9. Long-term consequences of labour market disadvantages in early career.

Dirk Hofäcker
Kati Kuitto

In many European societies, the situation of young people on the labour market, particularly those with lower human capital, has become critical: Young people are disproportionately found in insecure employment forms (such as temporary employment, false self-employment or low-paid jobs) and more often face the risk of becoming unemployed. A plethora of previous research has focused on the short-term consequences of such labour market disadvantages, such as immediate risks of poverty and social exclusion. Yet, disadvantage in early career may also hamper young people’s future prospects as it reduces their ability to accumulate savings for their later life, pensions in particular.

This stream focuses on the long-term consequences of early career disadvantages, and how social, labour market, educational and pension policies mitigate those consequences over the life course. We invite papers on (but not limited to) following themes:

  • Patterns and trends in the labour market attachment of youth and early career development
  • Atypical employment, self-employment and unemployment in early career
  • Trends and determinants of young people’s readiness and ability for long-term savings
  • Social and gender inequalities arising from labour market disadvantages and its long-term consequences for social security
  • Early career disadvantages, family formation and demographic developments
  • Career breaks in early career and implications for social security
  • Consequences of early career disadvantages for pensions
  • Social and labour market policy responses related to early career disadvantages
  • Social policy responses in ensuring sustainable old age incomes for today’s young generations
    We particularly encourage contributions providing novel empirical insights. Submission may be both nation-specific and/or comparative.

10 Irregular employment the welfare state.

Jochen Clasen
Daniel Clegg

Much of the recent social policy debate around labour market change has focused on atypical employment, particularly its implications for protection against conventional out-of-work social risks (unemployment, sickness, retirement etc.). Far less attention has been paid to the rise of irregular or casual employment as a social risk in its own right. But there is mounting evidence that a growing share of the European workforce is durably engaged in dependent work with unstable hours and earnings, which fails to deliver a minimum of certainty and economic security. Manifestations include on-call (or zero hours) employment, recurrent very short-term contracts with the same employer, irregular and low-hours part-time employment as well as the work scheduling arrangements facing pseudo-independent contractors in the burgeoning ‘gig economy’.

Though its composition matters, the growth of the irregular workforce is clearly a potential driver of in-work poverty. This development confronts policy makers with complex dilemmas. While re-regulation can outlaw extreme forms of worker subordination and mandate improved rights for irregular workers, it must be balanced against the risk of inhibiting growth in employment-intensive sectors of the economy. In-work benefits can be effective in enhancing income security, but are expensive, risk having perverse impacts on labour supply decisions and imply the subsidisation of ‘bad’ employers by ‘good’ ones. There are also thorny technical challenges in financing and administering transfer payments for those with highly variable hours of work and incomes.

This stream seeks papers that analyse the development of irregular employment and of welfare state responses to it. We invite contributions which:
A. Analyse the structure and socio-economic situation of the irregular workforce, including how it is (not) supported by existing welfare state provisions.
B. Reconstruct the development of regulatory and/or redistributive policies in the face of irregular work.
C. Conceptually or theoretically explore the implications for contemporary welfare states of the declining pertinence of the in-work/out-of-work distinction around which social statistics and social policy interventions are still largely organised.
Papers with an explicit comparative dimension are particularly welcomed.

11. Flexibility, gender and labour market inequalities.

Jekaterina Navicke
Linas Tarasonis

Societies have made a remarkable progress in closing the gender employment and wage gaps in the last fifty years. Yet, these remain and include significant unexplained parts. The explanatory factors include the division of labor inside the household, which usually places a much larger burden on women; selection into employment; firm, job and occupational segregation and, last but not least, discrimination.

Flexible work arrangements may affect the level of labor market inequality through various channels. On the one hand, it may contribute to a reduction of the gender wage and employment gaps. For example, by enabling primary caregivers to participate in the labour market and by shortening the breaks in labour market participation. On the other hand, more flexible work may increase within gender wage gaps through higher employment precariousness, processes of assortative mating, etc. Literature on so-called “flexibility stigma” provides evidence that the demand for flexibility at work comes at a price for women, but also for men.

The stream is aimed at analyzing the interplay of labour market flexibility, gender and formation of inequalities in the presence of heterogeneous prevalence of the flexible working arrangements across the EU. Papers from different disciplines, applying a variety of methodologies within a cross-country or local setting, as well as offering experimental evidence are welcome.

12. Preparing pension systems for the future: employment, retirement and wellbeing in later life.

Katja Möhring
Aart-Jan Riekhoff

In the face of population ageing and changing conditions at the labour market, pension systems around the world have been reformed in order to maintain fiscal sustainability and to provide adequate old-age income. Many of the recent reforms aim at postponing retirement and lengthening the lifetime employment required for full pension rights. At the same time, working careers and family lives are changing. As a result, inequalities in old-age income and retirement are on the rise. Moreover, concerns are increasing that pension contributions today will not lead to adequate benefits in the future, leading to greater inequalities between generations and potentially to the dwindling of the intergenerational solidarity that is at the base of many pension systems.

This stream focuses on the challenges of pension systems in relation to changing individual retirement behaviour and growing inequalities in old-age income, wealth, and wellbeing against the background of ongoing reforms and societal changes. We invite contributions on (but not limited to) following themes:

  • Atypical employment, flexible careers and pensions
  • Extending working lives, later career employment and new forms of flexible retirement
  • Interactions of changing working careers with health and wellbeing in later life
  • The relationship of changing family lives with retirement and pensions
  • Retirement and pensions of migrants, international transferability of pension rights
  • The interplay of pension, family and labour market policies
  • The changing roles of public, occupational and private pension schemes
  • Intergenerational justice and redistribution through pension systems
    We particularly encourage contributions providing novel empirical insights. Submission may be both nation-specific and comparative.

13. Social citizenship in old age: linkages and interrelations between pension and care policies

Christopher Grages
Julia Höppner

Living conditions of older citizens are heavily influenced by welfare state policies. In order to face challenges created by demographic changes and fiscal sustainability, pension and long-term-care (LTC) systems have been recently affected by encompassing reforms (characterized by retrenchment as well as expansion of social rights) and the introduction of consumerism and welfare markets. The developments in both policy fields have in common that older citizens are increasingly required to make decisions about their (future) welfare benefits and services and to act as “self-responsible” social citizens.
The stream deals with the implications of these changes in welfare policies for older citizens in the fields of pension and LTC policies and with its consequences regarding gender inequality, poverty risks and intergenerational solidarity. We invite theoretical and empirical papers that focus on one of these policy fields or discuss the relationship of pension and LTC policies as well as other relevant policy fields. We welcome single country studies and comparative papers. Possible topics are:

  • How have policy reforms related to marketization and self-responsibility changed social citizenship rights of older people in European welfare states?
  • How can we explain cross-national differences and policy changes?
  • What are the consequences of recent reforms for gender inequality, social risks among older citizens and intergenerational solidarity?
  • Which contradictions and contra-trends can be observed in welfare states and what are the causes and consequences?
  • How can countries be clustered regarding their form of marketization and self-responsibility in pension and LTC policies?
  • What are linkages and interrelations between pension and LTC policies with regard to social citizenship rights and in how far do both policy fields consider or complement each other?

14. A new politics of pensions? Actors, conflicts, ideas, reforms.

Giuliano Bonoli
Matteo Jessoula

In the last three decades, European pension systems have undergone major transformations through several “waves” of reforms mostly aimed at keeping costs under control and pursuing active ageing. These reforms were predominantly framed within a pension “paradigm” promoting the shift to “actuarially neutral” schemes (i.e. non-financial/financial defined contribution systems), high(er) pensionable ages and increased reliance on supplementary funded pension pillars.

More recently, however, this reform trajectory has been challenged by both long-term macro transformations above all labour market flexibilisation and growing income inequality – and contingent shocks – primarily the combination of the financial and economic crises in 2008-11. A broad literature has thus convincingly argued about the potential challenges for pension adequacy – and equity – as well as the risk of welfare dualisation and institutional maladjustment between labour market and pension arrangements in several advanced economies. Interestingly, in such transformed scenario, some countries have already started to rein back – and in some cases fully reverse – previous pension reforms by i) softening eligibility conditions for retirement; ii) increasing vertical (across income levels) redistribution – e.g. modifying pension formulas, or strengthening minimum old age protection; iii) reducing the scope of/dismantling supplementary funded pillars while reinforcing resource-pooling mechanism through public pay-as-you-go systems.

Against such backdrop, the stream welcomes papers analysing – either theoretically or empirically – reforms that have partially, or fully, reversed the previous reform path along the dimensions above. This topic is addressed from an interdisciplinary and multidimensional perspective, therefore welcoming contributions from political scientists, sociologists, economists, jurists, presenting comparative analyses or case studies around two overarching questions:

  • Which policy solutions were implemented?
  • Are there signs of an emerging “new politics of pension reforms” substantially different from neo-institutionalist “new politics” of welfare in the age of permanent austerity?

In particular, we are interested in the following:

  • Are new lines of (re-)distributive conflict emerging around implemented (or debated) reforms?
  • Which actors (government, parties, trade unions, employer associations, private pension providers) mobilized in favour, or against, such path-reversing interventions? Was there any action by national constitutional courts?
  • What was the role (if any) played by EU institutions (if any)? How did national policymakers manage fiscal concerns and exploited the fiscal room of manoeuvre to adopt reforms?
  • What normative arguments were brought forward (by which actors) to support reforms?

15. Independent living policies for people with disabilities in Europe: theoretical and empirical analyses.

Angela Genova
Jean-Pierre Tabin
Marco Terraneo

Independent living policies for people with disabilities have acquired an increasing attention in European and national social policy debates. According to these debates, independent living policies require innovation in service supply, in professionals involved as well as a better coordination and integration with different welfare policies (i.e. social, health, housing, transport and labour policies). Often, these policies are presented as a challenge for families who are in need of both protection and relative autonomy as well as for communities that face cultural and social barriers. Investigating independent living policy debates at local and national levels is a particular area in the study of disability social policies in Europe. It helps throwing light on collective representations of managing individual fragility and needs as well as on cultural barriers and social boundaries.

The topic of independent living policies for people with disabilities can be discussed from different perspectives, opposing different theoretical approaches: the social model of disability versus the biomedical perspective, or critical disability studies challenging ableism. The meaning given to “independent living” varies from each of these perspectives.

This stream calls for analyses of independent living policy debates focusing on the following aspects:

  • Theoretical analysis of “independence” and “disability”, with reference to the meanings of the first term according to the different forms of disability
  • Analysis of underlying theoretical perspectives in independent living policies in Europe.
  • Empirical analysis on independent living policies definitions at local, regional, national or European level, focusing on specific case studies, preferable, in a comparative perspective.
  • Independent living policy debates and implementation processes from different point of views: people with disabilities, families and caregivers, professionals, policy makers, community contexts.  

16. Labour market participation of persons with disabilities: policies and practices from a comparative perspective.

Patrizia Aurich-Beerheide
Finn Amby
Thomas Bredgaard
Jo Ingold
Rik van Berkel

Labour market participation is one of the most central aspects in securing social inclusion for people with disabilities and the UN “Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities” states that countries should aim to ‘promote the realization of the right to work’. At the same time, demographic ageing leads to a lack of skilled labour, while an increasingly older work-force displays age-related health problems. For these reasons, we expect that employees and jobseekers with disabilities will play a significant role on the labour market in future, which requires taking stock of policies and practices promoting their labour market participation.

This field of study is complex because it concerns social and employment policies on a national level as well as practices of ‘street-level organisations’ such as social and employment services or organisational practices of employers. Moreover, policies towards people with dis-abilities differ highly in international comparison: Whereas persons with disabilities in some countries have been assigned to policy areas concerned with social security, in other countries people with disabilities have been assigned to policy areas focussing on labour market participation. Thus, it is necessary to take a comparative perspective which comprises not just institutions, but also practices.

This stream addresses these topics asking the following questions:

  • How are pathways to work shaped for people with disabilities in different welfare states?
  • What is the role of street-level organizations, public employment services or other la-bour market intermediaries in integrating and retaining people with disabilities on the labour market?
  • What is the role of policies and practices in regard to national differences in employment outcomes for people with disabilities? To what extent do employers adjust their policies and practices towards people with disabilities?
    We invite mainly papers that are comparative in nature, but single case studies are also of interest provided they have a strong focus on the stream questions. Quantitative and qualitative and mixed methods studies are welcomed. 

17. Disparities in care arrangements and access to care benefits in different care regimes.

Tine Rostgaard
Costanzo Ranci

There has been growing interest in care inequality in recent years but, despite its importance to care research and policy and to the study of inequality more widely, it remains an under-explored area. This session/panel aims to bring together researchers working on this topic to share their research, discuss the conceptual frameworks and methodological approaches.

The issue of care inequality will be addressed from different perspectives. Firstly, care practices and arrangements are not neutral to socio-economic disparities but reflect different class and income positions. Moreover, recent trends towards targeting of public services and/or expansion of market provision of care have increased the class/income-based selectivity of actual care arrangements. Secondly, access to public care benefits (both cash and in-kind) is often selective by class, income and level of needs, though to different extent in different countries and care regimes. Research on childcare services has already highlighted the existence of Matthew effects in the access to such services, while research on long term care has stressed the relevance of care poverty and inequalities in the access to public as well as market care services (such as the employment of migrant care workers, for example). The recent emergence of sharper tensions between universalism and selectivity in many care regimes (for example, in need assessment or in the consideration of means tests in fixing the amount of benefits or fees) has also relevant impacts on care inequality.

In the session, the following aspects will be considered:

  • Inequalities in care arrangements and practices
  • Care poverty, care needs and socio-economic inequalities
  • Matthew effects in the access to care services
  • Eligibility rules, need assessment and selectivity in the access to care services
  • Tensions between universalism and selectivity and their impact on care inequality
  • Marketization and privatization of care and their effects on care inequality 

18. Care migration in Europe: Policies and patterns in live-in elderly care circulation.

Michael Leiblfinger
Miloslav Bahna

Over the last two decades, the employment of predominately female live-in care workers has increased considerably within Europe, mainly, but not exclusively, in Western European countries. Increased labor market participation of women as well as demographic changes led to so-called care gaps that are – at least partially – filled by circularly migrating care givers typically from new EU member countries of Central and Eastern Europe. Even though there are similarities, different patterns as well as a variety of regime and policy changes can be observed in different countries. However, precarious working conditions seem to be a common denominator across most receiving countries.

Our stream aims to discuss these developments as well as the reasons for care circulation and characteristics of care workers by inviting researchers at all stages of their career to submit papers linking policies and patterns of live in elder care circulation. This can be done by individual country level case studies as well as by cross country analyses, employing perspectives from sending and receiving countries. We especially welcome papers that fit in any of the following topics:

  • Empirical analysis of regime and policy changes in receiving and/or sending countries and their impact on migrant live-in care workers and their working conditions, both within one country or as cross country comparisons.
  • Empirical analysis of circular care migration patterns within Europe, i.e. Central and East to West, (South-)East to South-West, etc., as well as their differences and commonalities.
  • Empirical analysis of the impact of live-in carers’ characteristics, i.e. country of origin, previous labor market participation, age, gender, etc.
  • Empirical analysis on working conditions of migrant live-in care workers and precarity in one or across different countries.

19. Tackling gaps in protection against labour market risks.

Werner Eichhorst
Paul Marx

Labour market segmentation currently is at the forefront of national and European policy debates. Many observers have identified a ‘double disadvantage’ of non-standard workers in European welfare states: unstable employment patterns and insufficient protection through unemployment benefits. Such ‘insider-outsider’ divides have been portrayed as stable features of European political economies. However, national and European policy-makers increasingly formulate the goal to overcome such divides and to make labour markets and social policies more inclusive.

Against this background, we invite contributions tracing reforms that aim at reducing protection gaps of precious workers. This includes analyses of employment regulation and welfare arrangements. Contributions could either study protection gaps on the institutional level or through outcomes on the individual level (such as benefit entitlements or employment trajectories). We consider case studies of (changing) employment practices on the firm level as particularly relevant approach to the topic of the stream. Moreover, we welcome submissions that address the politics underlying changes in the protection of vulnerable labour market groups. The stream is not restricted to any particular type of policy or group of workers. Contributions could, for instance, focus on the relative protection of temporary workers, marginal part-timers, economically dependent self-employed, or the various flexible arrangements often summarized as ‘gig economy’. While the focus should be on European labour markets, we also encourage submissions that employ comparisons to non-European cases. Finally, we are open to any methodological approach that can contribute to the understanding of the changing protection of precious workers against labour market risks.

20. Basic income across Europe: Exploring variation in proposals, policy windows, and trajectories.

Jurgen De Wispelaere
Hanna Schwander
Tim Vlandas

The basic income proposal has generated exponential policy (and public) interest in a short time span. In many countries a majority of the population expresses support for a basic income, several recent prominent experiments have been launched, and a basic income has been mentioned in several recent elections and was the subject of a referendum in Switzerland.

This stream has two objectives. First, to examine what might explain the current policy interest. In addition to better understanding how to interpret the current momentum — a genuine policy window or a passing fad? — we are seeking contributions that theorise and empirically explore this resurgence. We are especially interested in possible answers to the puzzle of why basic income features prominently in policy debates yet still appears to resists policy implementation. A second objective is to explore where to go next, both academically and politically for supporters of a basic income. What are the wider theoretical implications of this mixed and varying support for the politics and economics of social policy in advanced economies? What are the leading avenues to maintain policy interest in basic income? What are the main political and policy challenges to overcome? What are the most feasible pathways or trajectories to move towards some form of basic income? What pre-existing policies or institutions serve as stepping stones that might promote basic income policy implementation under current conditions?

Answers to these questions have to account for the specific political and policy context that is present in different European countries, which in part accounts for why basic income proposals and the ongoing debate shows considerable cross-country variation, often at odds with prominent political economy typologies. We are particularly interested in papers that advance the comparative understanding of basic income variation across Europe employing diverse theoretical frameworks and empirical methods.

21. Family planning policies, reproductive rights, and health.

Hannah Zagel
Nadine Reibling

State support to family planning and reproductive health has recently developed into a dynamic policy field. Technological advances in family planning and maternity care as well as changing gender norms pose new challenges to regulation and policy. For instance, legal regulation of assisted reproductive technologies and prenatal screening constitutes an emerging field of state intervention in reproduction. Another example are state initiatives for quality measurement and evidence-based practices in childbirth which conflict with existing choices in birthplace options and initiatives to demedicalize childbirth. Similarly, public health initiatives that support long-term and exclusive breastfeeding need to be reconciled with policy measures aiming at early return-to-work for mothers. This institutional variation is crucial for understanding reproductive rights in European welfare states and for explaining maternity and children’s health outcomes.

The regulation of reproductive behavior is an important dimension of family-related policy that is often overlooked in social policy research. Feminist critiques early highlighted that mainstream comparative welfare state research failed to recognize country differences in state support to women’s autonomy including their reproductive rights. Ensuing empirical research has however focused primarily on institutional variation in care regimes and their relationship to women’s labor force integration, and paid little attention to a systematic comparison of family planning and reproductive rights. Congruently, family policy research is traditionally concerned with the state’s role in shaping the opportunities and living conditions of parents and their children. Yet, states differ in their approaches to regulating sex education, access to reproductive health measures such as contraception and abortion, pregnancy and maternity care as well as maternity rights.

In this stream, we would like to discuss research on policies that address the family formation process from a health and reproductive rights perspective. We welcome theoretical and empirical papers including (but not limited to) comparative perspectives on the following topics at the intersection of family and health policy:

  • Family planning policies
  • Sex education policies
  • Reproductive health policies (abortion, contraception…)
  • Maternity work-place policies
  • Pregnancy/maternity care policies
  • Regulation of assisted reproductive medicine

22. Theorising and analyzing the new relationship between family and welfare state.

Patricia Frericks
Birgit Pfau-Effinger

Since the 1990s, the relationship between the family and the welfare state has changed substantially in many European welfare states. Traditional family policies that supported the housewife model of the family as well as the rigid productivist family model in the state socialist countries are being substituted by new family policies that offer more flexible options for the work-family relationship on the basis of differently designed dual breadwinner concepts. In this process, welfare states have re-conceptualised the societal position of the family. And while these reforms have been accompanied by changes in the underlying cultural ideas about family and parenthood towards more egalitarian ideas, the structures of the work-family relationship are often still based on an unequal gender division of labour in most countries.

The change of the state-family-relationship had substantial consequences for the societal organization of childcare and care for older people, women’s employment, gender relations, fertility and social inequality. Comparative welfare state research uses theoretical concepts for analysing the state-family-relationship, such as de-/familialization, individualization, intergenerational relations or work-family reconciliation/conflict. However, the explanatory power of these concepts has been challenged with regard to both the effects of and the reasons for these policy changes.

We invite theoretical reflections and cross-national comparative analyses on the new relationship between the family and the welfare state. Main questions are

  • What are the consequences of these policy changes for social citizenship, social inequality, women’s employment, gender equality and fertility rates?
  • In how far do we observe path dependent or path breaking changes, and what are the main causes for the change?
  • Which cross-national differences in policy change can be observed, what are the main features of the new state-family-relationship, and how can these be explained?
  • Which theoretical concepts can be used to adequately analysing the changing state-family-relationship, and for which kind of focus do we need new theoretical concepts?

23. Men’s care work: Is the welfare state ready?

Cassandra Engeman
Rense Nieuwenhuis

On questions of gender equality and work-life reconciliation, scholars and policymakers have focused on how to encourage and support women’s employment. The last several decades have seen a massive entry of women into the labour market, and the welfare state has played a pivotal role. In the wake of these changes, however, men’s participation in unpaid domestic and care work has received less attention. Men’s participation in family care has been described as the gender revolution’s second phase, which follows first-phase increases in women’s employment. Compared to previous decades, men are more likely to work part-time, spend more time on housework, take parental leave and provide more care for their children – including as single fathers. Welfare states have implemented paternity leave and changed custody laws, and the recent EU directive on work-life balance includes an explicit focus on fathers.

This stream raises two questions (1.) To what extent have welfare states adapted to support men’s new roles including participation in fathering as well as other forms of unpaid caregiving? and (2.) What are some implications of such adaptations – or lack of adaptation – for gender inequality and other social problems? We invite papers that concern social policies, legislation and state programs that challenge traditional gender norms of caregiving. This includes family policies, but also policies and legislation in the areas of the labor market and social protection. Papers are invited that examine how and why welfare states encourage family caregiving among men and the outcomes of such government actions. For example, what policies and programs are effective in encouraging men’s new roles, and what are (intended and unintended) consequences for men, for women, for economic inequality within and between households, gender differences in life-time earnings, marriage stability, health and well-being for workers, children, and aging/sick relatives? We welcome qualitative and quantitative papers, preferably with a comparative perspective.

24. Innovative social policies against homelessness: interventions, networks, and governance

Giulia Ganugi
Riccardo Prandini
Caterina Cortese

The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (CESCR) of the United Nations describes the extreme poverty as a combination of revenue shortage, insufficient human development and social exclusion. Homeless people always experience the lack of both material and immaterial resources, together with diverse forms of social hardship and the absence of institutional and/or informal support networks. Therefore, poverty and social exclusion are considered the main dimensions to analyse the phenomenon of homelessness.

The Europe 2020 Strategy, presented by the European Commission and signed by the EU Members in 2010, sets the reduction of Europeans living below national poverty lines by 25%, lifting 20 million people out of poverty, among its major strategic goals. In the same year, the European Commission identifies homeless people as one of the main target populations of the Europe 2020 Strategy. Eventually, within the Social Investment Package issued in 2013, the document Confronting Homelessness in the European Union recommends the adoption of integrated, housing-led, and long-term strategies to reduce the homelessness at national, regional and local level. Following different modalities, the Member States are developing innovative policies and interventions to address the homelessness issue. Innovation concerns both the type of services implemented and the governance model established. New services entail forms of Housing First and, more in general, housing led. Governance arrangements involve different elements such as the number and nature of stakeholders, the collaborative networks among them, the co-production, etc.

This stream seeks to papers which explore the European attempt to reduce homelessness while also fostering personal capabilities and social innovation. It aims at collecting both theoretical and empirical contributions that deal with social policies and homelessness, focusing on innovative approaches, their favouring and hindering conditions and their scalability at different territorial levels.

25. Gender Equality Policies in research and academia.

Marta Warat
Ewa Krzaklewska
Paulina Sekuła

The gender inequalities persist in academia and research: while some improvements are visible, new challenges linked to (neo)liberalism, international competitiveness, precarisation of academic profession, corporatization appear. Nevertheless, in recent years, we are witnessing the increased initiative to develop policies and measures at the higher education institutions (HEI) and research performing organizations (RPO). While at policy level there appear a general consensus on the usefulness and adequateness of such measures, their limitedness is being discussed. Are these tools enough to address persisting inequalities? Are they effective in all organizational and cultural contexts?

Simultaneously, the international aspect should be taken into account as the EU plays a strong role in encouraging the attainment of gender equality and funding the development and implementation of gender equality measures, particularly through the Horizon project grants. This approach raises several questions, ranging from the potentialities of such support and its impact on institutional change to sensitivity towards regional context and sustainability of project-based measures.

We welcome papers that tackle such themes as:

  • Gender equality policies in HEI/RPO: developing, implementing and monitoring gender equality measures, their impact and effectiveness, barriers to implementing gender equality including resistance and strategies of dealing with it, undermining of equality efforts and their subordination to other goals, achieving only “islands” of equality.
  • Innovative solutions in regards to supporting women’s careers, gender balance in leadership or integration of gender dimension in research and teaching.
  • Regional differences in gender equality policies, with special focus on Central and Eastern Europe where the proportion of HEI/RPO with Gender Equality Plans is much lower than the average in the EU.
  • Theoretical and methodological underpinnings of gender equality policies.
  • The role of gender expertise and knowledge transfer in developing gender equality policies.
  • Feminist analysis of gender equality policies in academia and research.
  • International cooperation in relation to gender equality.

26. Social Investment and inequality: exploring redistributive dilemmas.

Margarita León
Lara Maestripieri

Contemporary welfare states have been urged to adopt a ‘Social Investment turn’ (Hemerijck, 2017). In the context of changing labour markets and new social risks, social investment policies serve to ease the flow of contemporary labour-market transitions and focus on human capital enhancing from a life course perspective. Investing in early years education and care (ECEC) and labour market activation policies (ALMP) are two welfare domains which are central to the Social Investment paradigm.

However, cross-country differences remain very large in productive policies like ALMPs and ECEC services. Recent studies have shown the existence of important distributional conflicts among different socio-economic and ethnic groups in the use of these policies (on Matthew Effects and childcare see for instance Cantillon 2011; Van Lancker and Ghysels 2012; Abrassart and Bonoli 2015; Pavolini and Van Lancker 2018). The grade by which this distributive inequality is mitigated depends on entry requirements usually defined at the municipal level. Local discretion plays a relevant role in differentiating outcomes of social investment policies within the same country and across different social groups.

We welcome papers that empirically address this distributive dilemma at different levels by either proposing a cross-country/cross-municipal comparison or a single case study. Some indicative research questions would be: what are the factors that explain inequalities in outcomes in ALMPs and ECEC policies? Which are the social groups more affected by unmet demand from public services? What impact does different policy design have on the likelihood of service use for different families or individuals? We welcome all approaches – theoretical and empirical, substantive and methodological, micro and macro, qualitative and quantitative, as well as geographically specific research and comparative studies.

27. Public opinions and social policy: How are they related?

Nate Breznau
Lisa Heukamp
Hung Nguyen

Only for about three decades has comparative or longitudinal survey data been available that enables researchers to statistically investigate the relationships of public opinion and social policies across time and place. There are two broad streams of research working with these data. On the one side are those investigating how policies shape public opinion. These scholars look at policies’ legal stipulations, outlays such as spending, impacts on their target groups and costs; and then try to determine how these impact the levels and variation in attitudes within and across societies. This group includes institutional scholars who attempt to identify a logic or normative pattern to social policy preferences or welfare state attitudes (e.g., the work of Coughlin, Svallfors, Larsen or Jæger).

On the other side are scholars who look at how public opinion shapes policies. These scholars often look for a correlation between opinion change and policy change over time, many employing a time-series approach within societies (e.g., Brooks, Brettschneider or Wlezien). They tend to focus on democratic political processes that lead policymakers and parties to shape policy to follow public opinion. There are more and more scholars questioning these two separate spheres of unidirectional research. The attempt to model theoretical endogeneity due to reciprocally causal processes between opinion and policy (e.g., Breznau, Jennings or Hakhverdian). Moreover, they and others are working to address problems of two few countries or time points within countries to recover reliable measures of central tendency. Nevertheless, there is much we do not know about the opinion-policy relationship, nor what we can realistically conclude based on available data.

This stream welcomes any research that can address these questions of feedback between opinion and policy, whether it focuses on reciprocal processes, issues of measurement or just a single causal process from either opinion or policy. It also welcomes innovations to answer these questions such as meta-analysis, p-curve analysis, simultaneous feedback models, experiments, case studies, qualitative research or qualitative comparative analysis.

28. A multi-stakeholder perspective on welfare legitimacy

Tijs Laenen
Femke Roosma
Federica Rossetti

Understanding and confronting the problems and challenges of the ongoing welfare state transformation in Europe calls for in-depth knowledge of the support the welfare state obtains from the broader society in which it is embedded. Notwithstanding a few notable exceptions, most existing studies have approached the issue of welfare state legitimacy from the perspective of public opinion. As a result, relatively little is known about the welfare attitudes of other important policy stakeholders, such as politicians, administrators, social workers, pressure groups and welfare recipients.

This stream aims to broaden the analytical scope by studying welfare state legitimacy from a multi-stakeholder perspective in which voice is given to all relevant policy stakeholders, including those who have hitherto received limited scholarly attention. Therefore, we welcome papers that either (a) zoom in on the welfare attitudes of one particular stakeholder group (including the general population), or (b) zoom out by comparing the welfare attitudes of two or more groups. Paper proposals for the stream should clearly convey the research questions (what?), their societal and scientific relevance (why?), and the applied methodological framework (how?). As for the latter, studies may be quantitative or qualitative in design, use data from different sources (e.g. surveys, experiments, focus groups, interviews, policy texts and media content), and be national or cross-national in scope.

29. The role of welfare state effort on values, attitudes and social participation.

Tim Reeskens

Over the last years, a rich scholarship has demonstrated that welfare states not only reduce economic inequalities, but also impact social outcomes. Redistribution provides resources to those in need which allow them to for instance be involved in civil society (van Oorschot & Arts, 2005). Furthermore, gaps in social participation between privileged and disadvantaged groups are considerably smaller in more generous welfare states (van Ingen & van der Meer, 2011). In terms of shaping values and attitudes, welfare state effort works in mysterious ways. The fact that residents of universal welfare states, as they treat everyone in a fair and equal manner without subjecting welfare claimants to discretionary means-tests, have more trust other people (Rothstein & Stolle, 2008), or form more inclusive opinions towards outsiders (Crepaz, 2008; Reeskens & van Oorschot, 2012), stimulates theoretical debates about the underlying mechanisms.

The aim of this panel is therefore to bring together papers that stimulate the study on the relationship between welfare effort and social outcomes, with a particular focus on social and political values, attitudes, and participation. The panel welcomes theoretical contributions, but also empirical papers that contribute to a better understanding of how welfare states affect social outcomes, in particular from a cross-national or longitudinal perspective.

30. Spatial inequalities, rescaling and social policies.

Yuri Kazepov
Kristian Kongshøj
Jørgen Goul Andersen

Europe has been facing rising inequality in the last two decades as consequence of higher concentration of wealth, polarization in the labour and housing market, increased migration from poor countries, and inadequacy of welfare policy to redistribute among social classes and territories. While research has already accounted for increase in individual inequality and related poverty risks, only recently has territorial inequality become an important issue attracting renewed interest.

Regional disparities and the associated dynamics of social segregation might have adverse effects for social and political cohesion – loss of trust, dissatisfaction, dissent and conflict. It is associated with the rise of populism and political polarization. Widening regional disparities might have adverse effects for social integration and the sense of sharing a common identity within countries or nation states. In other words, regional inequality might by itself contribute to an erosion of the social and political order. Research has shown that the post-industrial transition has taken place differently throughout Europe, increasing the economic and social distance between successful, economically well-integrated areas, and more marginal, less competitive areas. These differences have spread not only between, but also within countries, with relevant implications for spatial justice. However, within European countries it also varies whether we witness regions pulling apart and communities tearing up at the seams, or perhaps a more modest return of space and location This means that stories of larger megatrends and structural or economic forces – such as skill-biased technological change and “agglomeration”, i.e. positive feedback effects in the centres of gravity in the modern economy – cannot stand alone and that they have nuances. Such forces are not equally dominant everywhere. The equalizing role of welfare policies is crucial here and the outcome has not to be taken for granted as they may also increase – instead of contrasting – the economic and social distance among territories.

This session is aimed at exploring the recent increase of territorial inequalities in Europe and to investigate the association between individual and spatial inequalities. In particular, we are interested in the role played by welfare policies in favoring or contrasting spatial inequality. We welcome papers that:

  • develop either a synchronic or a diachronic analysis of spatial inequality;
  • explore the issue not only cross-country, but also focusing on sub-national, regional or local differentiation;
  • analyze the methodological and theoretical implications of rescaling policy analysis at sub-national levels;
  • analyze the role of welfare policies in contrasting territorial inequality;
  • explore the implications of rising territorial policies in a broad range of policy fields (such as, for example, housing, poverty, or education).

31. The changing landscape of social citizenship in Europe.

Rune Halvorsen
Ana Marta Guillén Rodriguez
Mi Ah Schoyen

Ongoing developments in European welfare states call for a new, dynamic and multifaceted understanding of social citizenship. Policy reforms have produced new relationships between the provision of income security and the promotion of employment, changes in public and private responsibility for social risk protection (especially in old age), care services provision and individual choice and purchase of care (e.g. in care for children, persons with disabilities or persons of age). They have also altered the relationships between social redistribution and social regulation of the market, and between centralised governance of social protection policies and political involvement of citizens’ groups and organisations in the deliberation of social policies.

Shifting balances in power between the supranational, national, regional and local level of governance affect how social policies are deliberated and implemented. Social policies are increasingly negotiated in a global and multilevel governance system. The European Pillar of Social Rights provides a framework to foster social citizenship at the EU and national level. However, it is an unanswered question whether the EU and national governments have the capacities to implement the ambitions of ‘Social Europe’ in practice. The effects are asymmetrical in terms of who benefit from these policy reforms and where these processes increase risks of social inequalities, poverty or social exclusion. Persistent, but territorially divergent, poverty levels and social inequalities threaten the wellbeing of European citizens and challenge EU ambitions for an inclusive and cohesive Europe.

The stream welcomes papers that address reforms in national and/or supranational social policies with consequences for social inequalities, risks of poverty and social exclusion in Europe. The papers may examine one or more policy areas and interactions between different governance levels. Cross-national comparative papers are particularly welcome. Theoretical and conceptual papers are also welcome. We encourage perspectives that pay attention to gender or intersectionality.

32. Towards a strengthened European dimension of social policy after 2020?

Caroline de la Porte
Dorota Szelewa
Paul Schoukens
Trine Larsen

The European Union promotes high social standards, but welfare is organized within the boundaries of nation-states. Yet, there are zones of legal uncertainty, where the division of competences between the EU and the national levels is blurred. The European Pillar of Social Rights (EPSR), devised by the Juncker Commission as a response to various crises and adopted in November 2017 as a ‘solemn declaration’, embodies this legal uncertainty. The 20 ‘principles’ of the pillar cover diverse areas, ranging from areas where the EU has a strong legal base, such as gender equality, through areas that represent a legal grey zone between the national and EU levels (e.g. parental leave) to areas of exclusive national decision-making (e.g. social protection). Its effects in and across member states – in terms of ideas, policy, legislation, institutions and politics – are not yet clear.

We invite papers that engage in with initiatives in the pillar. We encourage inter and multi-disciplinary comparative work in the social sciences, including law, political science and sociology. Authors are welcome to use a wide array of methodologies (qualitative, quantitative, mixed). This includes issues, such as:

  • The development and planned implementation of specific legal initiatives, such as the work-life balance directive
  • the relation between the EPSR and the EU Charter on fundamental rights (especially the social rights of the EU Charter), and the relationship between the EPSR and international social rights and standards as developed in the ILO, the UN and/or Council of Europe
  • the Council Recommendation on access to social protection for workers and self-employed, the impact it may have for national social security systems and its possible relevance for the EU monitoring of social policies overall;
  • the role of various types of actors – EU and member state level policy-makers, policy and legal experts, representatives of business and labour – in EU policy that has emerged with the Pillar, at all levels of the policy cycle;

33. Combining global and comparative social policy methodologies.

Alexandra Kaasch
Heejung Chung
Stefan Kühner

In recent years, scholarship on comparative and global social policy have increasingly come closer regarding their interest of combining research questions and methodologies as to understand countries and levels of governance in relation to each other. Comparative social policy analysis has struggled, for example, with the problems of policy learning from other countries with very different contexts/historical legacies, or the tension of large N studies with its possible oversimplication of realities to the small N/case studies approach where generalisation is difficult. Global social policy studies have been limited, amongst other things, when they studied diverse international actors involved in the formation of social policy, to identify causal relationships between transnational policy actors and factors and social policy reform at national levels. Setting up analytical frameworks that offer systematic and comparative frameworks while at the same time taking into account interdependent processes caused by global markets, global crises, shared policy ideas due to diffusion, transfer or learning processes, or supranational political institutions are needed, but complex and challenging to establish. This increasingly necessitates enhanced methodologies for studying social policy development and reform in an interconnected world appropriately.

In this stream, we would like to gather papers engaging with global and comparative social policy methodologies in different ways and from different perspectives. This could include comparative approaches taking into account policy diffusion or mutual observation between countries. It could also mean approaches that apply comparative frameworks to study global social policy processes and ideas. We welcome both, papers exploring qualitative and quantitative methods, or even mixed-methods designs. The contributions can be considered either for a book project in the book series “Research in Comparative and Global Social Policy” or as a special issue in the “Global Social Policy”.

34. Methodologies for comparative social policy analysis.

Daniele Checchi
Petra Sauer
Philippe Van Kerm

Different countries pursue different policy goals with alternative policy instruments, and government turnover leads to changes in policy objectives and implementations over time within the same country. However, while there is a large literature describing patterns of inequality which takes a cross-country analysis of time variation, there is much less research on variations in policy packages (welfare policies, tax policies, labour market regulation, educational policies) and on their impact of inequality and poverty. One main reason lies in the absence of appropriate, consistently defined and comparable indicators of the policy stance with respect to specific dimensions. Take the United States as a point of comparison. A wealth of research exploits variations across States and over time to assess the impact of policy decisions on a wide range of dimensions; Hoynes and Patel’s (Journal of Human Resources, 2018) recent analysis of the Earned Income Tax Credit impact on inequality and poverty reduction is only one of many examples. Such research design is largely unequalled elsewhere around the globe. This is all the more regrettable given the increasingly recognized ‘American exceptionalism’ in policy preferences and income distributions. There is a crucial need for analysis of policy impacts in different demographic, economic, and institutional environments.

This stream invites papers which take novel approaches to comparative social policy analysis, using different methodologies and datasets to tackle the task to make “measurements” of policy frameworks amenable to empirical research. We particularly appreciate studies which contribute to our understanding of (the evolution) of different welfare models around the globe, and provide insights into which policy packages work to fight poverty inequality. We also welcome research which analyses the (causal) impact of policy changes onto several other social dimensions, such as education, labour market participation, employment, household formation, health or well-being.

35. Causal inference in social policy analysis.

Thomas Biegert
Elias Naumann

Social policy research at heart is interested in identifying causal relationships. We are interested in the reasons for policy changes, we are interested in evaluating the consequences of policies for society, and we are interested in how policies affect individual behavior or attitudes. At base, the questions motivating our research are causal. Yet, social policy analysis has always struggled with the establishment of causal relationships because it has to deal with a special set of problems. We often encounter issues such as collinearity, multiple alternative explanations, and limited variation in our explanatory variables as a consequence of the country-comparative setup of our research.

In recent decades the social sciences have witnessed a surge in studies that closely follow the basic idea of counterfactual designs. More and more social policy researchers have come to embrace counterfactual designs, as they offer a multitude of ways how to tackle these issues and how to identify causal relationships in our research field. In contrast to other methodological developments, counterfactual designs do not overtly emphasize advanced econometric models but put the focus on research design. Following the basic idea of randomized experiments, it brings along a distinct way of thinking about how to set up studies and how to identify causal relationships.

This stream will explore methodological innovations in comparative social policy analysis. We invite contributions that closely follow and apply a counterfactual design. In particular, we encourage papers relying on natural or quasi-natural experiments, survey and framing experiments, matching, instrumental variables, fixed effects panel designs, difference-in- differences approaches, and regression discontinuity designs. Paper proposals for the stream should thus not only include the research question, theoretical background, and results, they should provide specific detail on the analytical approach taken to establish causality.

36. Taxation and its implications for social policy.

David Byrne

Taxation is of fundamental importance in relation to social policy in all its aspects. It is the basis for the funding of all Welfare State provision (with charges playing a minor part and compulsory public insurance understood as a form of taxation), has enormous implications for the distribution of disposable incomes and hence social inequality, and shapes the entire character of social orders as illustrated very clearly by the difference between the policy proposals of left, centre and right parties in almost all recent elections across Europe. It has also adopted a growing role as a behavioural tool intended to alter the actions of individuals, households and others in pursuit of many social policy objectives.

This stream seeks to discuss research covering aspects of the way taxation and social policies interact across the whole of governance and have a determinant effect on the whole character of societies. Of particular importance is the way taxation systems work out in post-industrial formerly industrial societies but we would also very much welcome contributions looking at the new industrial societies of the global South. Potential session themes include:

  1. Taxation and welfare as a political issue
  2. The relationship between taxation systems and social inequalities – here papers could address any of the main dimensions of inequality in terms of class, gender, ethnicity, area AND the intersections among these dimensions.
  3. Taxation at the level of urban systems – the implications for the character of urban governance and the form of city regions.
  4. Understanding tax – the role of disciplines and methods in social investigation.

37. New Ways for Understanding the Origins of Outcome Inequality.

Nadine Schoeneck-Voss

In contemporary capitalist societies, the inequality of outcomes poses a major societal challenge and social policy cares about those in need. Although the extent of welfare generosity certainly depends on a country’s economic prosperity and its welfare regime, the question of the origins of outcome inequality (which is essentially income inequality) may also have an impact on policy makers’ decisions. However, in this respect, inequality researchers tend to focus on individuals’ social backgrounds.

Undoubtedly, social backgrounds are highly relevant for individuals’ socioeconomic trajectories over their life-course and, thus, their potential welfare dependency. Nevertheless, concentrating on this one factor (which considers individuals as relatively less in control of their life’s outcomes) is insufficient: Imagine four individuals (“A” to “D”), all unemployed and welfare recipients. “A” had bad starting conditions. “B” has no marketable natural gifts. “C” has had a lot of bad luck in life. “D” is likewise deprived, but makes every effort to get out of unemployment. As these four cases imply, further causal factors (e.g. talents and abilities, good or bad luck, ambition and effort) should be taken into account to more comprehensively understand why individuals end up in a hierarchical order.

Theoretical and/or empirical papers from a wide range of social science disciplines (e.g. sociology, social policy, political science, and social work) are welcome. Possible questions to be addressed include:
• How can we explain the origins of outcome inequality beyond the well-established axis of social origin → social destination?
• How much (co-)responsibility do individuals bear for their life’s outcomes?
• In what ways should welfare deservingness depend on different origins of outcome inequality? Are there any instructive examples for welfare policies being sensitive in this sense?
• What are the practical implications of these reflections for social policy in general and/or social work in specific? 

38. Welfare state change under democratic demise and the rise of populism.

Dorottya Szikra
Emmanuele Pavolini

While there is a flourishing literature analysing the recent rise of populism and the demise of liberal democracy in Europe and beyond, the social policy consequences of these political processes have rarely been analysed. What is more, hybrid regimes and autocracies have been out of sight for welfare state analysis, which has long been centred around established Western democracies. Due to theoretical and empirical barriers comparative welfare state literature usually leave such “problematic” cases out of sight.

This stream invites papers that analyse welfare state change in countries experiencing the backsliding democratic institutions and that have never really qualified as “free” or “liberal democracies”. We also invite contributions that analyse the social policy proposals of parties and movements that question the basic institutions of liberal democracies and thus offer anti-establishment (right- or left-wing) alternatives. Having in mind that an increasing number of populist and extreme right wing parties have either became a governing force in recent years, or have provided an outside support to governments, there is good reason to analyse social policy proposals these political parties initiated. The stream invites single country cases and comparative studies, and welcomes research based on quantitative as well as qualitative or mixed methodologies.