News

Here you can find the latest updates on the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy": summaries of current research results, references to our latest publications, outcomes of events and more news from the projects and their staff members.

Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier and Dr. Dieter Wolf
Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier and Dr. Dieter Wolf
Sven Beckert's work on the history of the global cotton trade inspires Frank Nullmeier to reflect on future social policy research.

As part of the lecture series "Global Cotton. One University - one Book - one City" Frank Nullmeier and Dieter Wolf presented their thoughts on what social policy research can learn from Sven Beckert's book "Empire of Cotton".

Based on years of research, historian Beckert tells the story of global capitalism using one product as an example: cotton. Through production, processing and trade, the natural fibre has linked the most diverse regions of the world.

After Dieter Wolf had discussed two of Beckert's key points (1, "The triangular trade between Europe, Africa and Latin America was based on violence and a manifestation of war capitalism" and 2, "The British banned slavery when industrial production based on wage labour became more profitable than the old model"), Frank Nullmeier raised the question of what modern social policy research can learn from Sven Beckert's approach and methodology. Nullmeier named three main points:

1) Transnationality. National historiography is no longer sufficient to explain the dynamics of social policy decisions. Due to the integration into the global economic and financial system, the effects of migration and global communication systems, decisions on social policy no longer result solely from national factors. Social policy research must therefore be expanded into a history of transnational links across continents, similar to Beckert's history of cotton cultivation and trade and its effects.

2) Political economy. Beckert did not see global cotton trade purely as a result of the interplay between supply and demand. It results (to this day) to a considerable extent from the balance of power and violence between the participating countries and empires. The same applies to social policy: the economy as a central influencing factor cannot be adequately explained without the political sphere, including the balance of law, regulations, power and violence.

3) Analysis of causal chains: In his book, Beckert uses many examples to show how an entire cascade of events and reactions to them had many different effects in different places around the world. Social policy research should also pursue such long causal chains and reconstruct complex causal networks in order to understand the emergence and change of social policies.

The lecture series "Global Cotton. One university - one book - one city" runs until the end of the year.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Frank Nullmeier
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58576
E-Mail: frank.nullmeier@uni-bremen.de

The CRC 1342 is looking for a PhD researcher in Computer Science / Human-Computer Interaction for a position in its project "Measuring the global dynamics of social policy [...]. Co-creating the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS)".

The Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" at the University of Bremen invites applications for the following academic position –under the condition of job release-

PhD Researcher in Computer Science / Human-Computer Interaction
Salary Scale TV-L 13 (100%) starting September 1, 2018.
The position is a fixed term position until December 31, 2021.
Reference number: A189/18

The position is part of the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" (Globale Entwicklungsdynamiken von Sozialpolitik) funded by the German Research Foundation and will be located within the project:

A01. Measuring the global dynamics of social policy and cross-national interdependencies—Co-Creating the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS)

Project Description
The project aims to quantify the dynamics of socio-political interdependencies between countries on a global scale. For this, a web-based information system will be developed, which allows a comprehensive analysis of such interdependencies and which will empower social scientists to leverage state-of-the-art machine learning and visualisation tools. This system will be co-created by an interdisciplinary team of 12 experts from the fields of political science, geography, and computer science. Together, we will envision, implement and evaluate novel software tools and techniques. The web-based information system will be the first to enable the dynamic measurement of social policy and horizontal and vertical interdependencies between countries on a global scale. WeSIS will also aggregate the findings of the collaborative research centre in a central space. Eventually, WeSIS will contain data on social policy, country-specific characteristics, and political, economic, and social interdependencies across states as well as the countries' integration into international organisations.

The goal of our computer science team in this project is to do groundbreaking research in the interdisciplinary field of computational social science by developing innovative tools and methods to empower the social scientists, making use of the special opportunity to collaborate with experts from multiple fields within the Collaborative Research Centre.

Responsibilities
Our research questions will focus on the empowerment of social scientists through computational methods, especially in the areas of machine learning and data visualisation i.e., data science. Therefore, we are looking for a computer scientist interested in these areas.
Together with a large group of social scientists, we will co-create an information system that gives a holistic picture of the global welfare state, made available as a web platform. With this in mind, our role includes to lead the design of the system within the co-creation process and to apply human-computer interaction principles throughout the design, development, and evaluation.
Your focus will be the development of machine learning and natural language processing applications. You will support creating the database management system and the system infrastructure.

Requirements

  • Master’s degree in Computer Science, Human-Computer Interaction, Digital Media, Media Informatics, or a related field
  • programming experience in one or more object-oriented programming languages such as Python, Ruby, Java, or equivalent
  • experience with web development
  • experience with database design and development
  • fluency in English


Desirable

  • experience with machine learning
  • interest in advancing social science by envisioning and implementing computational social science tools
  • experience with computational social science
  • experience with user-centered and participatory design
  • experience with co-creation


The University of Bremen has received a number of awards for its diversity policies and offers a family-friendly working environment as well as an international atmosphere.

The University is committed to a policy of providing equal employment opportunities for both men and women alike, and therefore encourages particularly women to apply for the position offered. Persons with disabilities will be considered preferentially in case of equal qualifications and aptitudes.

The University of Bremen explicitly invites persons with a migration background to apply.

If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter
(abreiter@uni-bremen.de).

Applications including a cover letter, CV, as well as copies of degree certificates, should be submitted until July 19, 2018 to

Information Management Research Group
Prof. Dr. Andreas Breiter
Am Fallturm 1 (Entrance F)
D-28359 Bremen

or by Email to:
Miss Ewa Zoschke (e.zoschke@uni-bremen.de)

The cost of application and presentation cannot be reimbursed.

The Russian government has recently decided to raise the retirement age and VAT. CRC member Martin Brand analyses whether these decisions were necessary and what social disruptive force they could unfold.

Value-added tax in Russia is to rise from 18 to 20 percent. But it is above all the pension reform that moves people in Russia, writes Brand: The regular retirement age is to rise from 55 to 63 for women and from 60 to 65 for men. If you look at life expectancy, especially of Russian men (67.5 years), it is obvious that this reform is extremely unpopular: according to a survey, 92 percent of the population are against it. Protests are already taking place on online platforms and in the streets.

On the other hand, the reform seems inevitable: the pension fund is chronically in deficit, in 2018 the equivalent of 17.7 billion euros will be missing, 40 percent of revenues will come from the state budget. "This tension between economic and social factors," writes Brand, "builds the background of the debate about Russia's pension system reform - at the latest after the World Cup". 

Further information:
The detailed article for the Federal Agency for Civic Education


Contact:
Martin Brand
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-
E-Mail: martin.brand@uni-bremen.de

Keonhi Son
Keonhi Son
Keonhi Son is especially interested in social policies of emerging countries. In an interview she explains why the shortcomings of the South Korean social system are a major motivating factor for her.

You studied in South Korea and made a bachelor’s degree, but then you gave your career a complete turn-around. Please tell me about it.

I did my bachelor's degree in South Korea and then I started a totally new subject in a different country.

What was your first subject?

My first subject was English literature and I specialised in English theatre. I was quite into it at that time. But at one point I made another decision.

Why? Did you work in that field and did not like it?

I worked a bit for a theatre company and then I went to London to learn a bit more. Then I moved to Germany to study more. But I really didn't like theatre studies in Germany. That was when I realised that literature and theatre may not be the right thing for me. So I started to figure out what my second favourite subject was: public administrative studies or political science - in South Korea both are very mixed.

And that was what you made your master's degree in Heidelberg in.

Yes, in Public Policy.

Political or administrative science is very different to literature and theatre – what is it that you like about the subject so much?

First of all, studying political science was great fun. But secondly South Korea really needs to develop its social policy right now. Because we achieved economic development but the other factors didn't follow up yet. So I wanted to contribute to that. My parents and my relatives for example suffer from the absence of a well-established pension system. Somehow I was thinking: Maybe I can do something about it. Germany was a perfect place for me to study. Because it has quite a long history of social security systems.

I read that South Korea recently made some progress in terms of social policy: They reduced the weekly working hours - from 68 to 52!

Still very much!

Do South Koreans really work that much?

Yes, they do. It's a totally different mindset from European people. People back then had a very high level of job security and at the same time they thought they belonged to the company - they dedicated their life to their company. Even if the company exploited the people. But for a long time the people were okay with that and thought: This is the place I belong to. But now job security in South Korea is very low. Young people do not want to do long hours anymore: "Your are not going to hire me forever, so why should I work for you forever?" The reduction of the working hours is a good sign but at the same time it is sad. Because now job security is very low. Like anywhere else.

What would you like to achieve in your career in the next 30 to 40 years?

That is a very long time. I think in our generation we will have to change our jobs our jobs often. But I really want to be a researcher. I want to study social policy of less developed countries. So the CRC is the perfect project for me because I always wanted to study this subject especially in my region. I am not so sure if I want to BE or BECOME something in terms of career, but I am sure that I want to DO something.

Does that mean that you want to change the South Korean society?

I would like to help a bit. Change is too big a word. I am not that ambitious. I would like at least to provide a good model of social policy that might work. When Europe developed its welfare state, the constellation was completely different to the one we encounter in Soth Korea right now. It is a very different game now. We need to produce a new model of social policy. We can't just copy the European system. Working on the development of such a new system, that is what I want to do.

If you had anything you needed: enough research money, bright colleagues and all the necessary knowledge - which research question would you like to solve?

That is a very big question. I think it's quite similar to what I already told you. The less developed countries are in a situation that they have suffered from financial crisis, rapid globalisation, de-industrialisation, post-industrialisation and so on - with all of these things happening we should know how to develop our social policies, because we developed the social security systems way slower than our economy. And before the private insurance system will dominate the entire system, we should somehow find a way to provide a public social system.


Contact:
Keonhi Son
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58541
E-Mail: son@uni-bremen.de

Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103
Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103
Gulnaz Isabekova published her account of Armenia’s, Azerbaijan’s and Georgia’s healthcare systems in Caucasus Analytical Digest: Healthcare professionals move from rural to urban areas, limiting the rural population’s access to health care services.

Rural areas in the Southern Caucasus region suffer from a growing shortage of healthcare professionals, Gulnaz Isabekova of CRC 1342 describes in an article recently published in Caucasus Analytical Digest #103. Doctors, mid-level professionals and midwifes move to urban areas or migrate to Post-Soviet countries where they seek and find higher salaries, better working conditions and professional development opportunities. The uneven distribution of healthcare workers jeopardizes the rural healthcare systems and the quality of the services.

Isabekova describes a mismatch between the large number of medical school graduates and the number of vacant positions in rural areas. The governments of Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia should create stronger incentives for healthcare professionals to work in rural areas. According to Isabekova potential incentives include faster promotion tracks, extra training, fellowships, grants and bonuses to salaries. Also the number of mid-level professionals needs to be increased and their training should be strengthened. This may ensure at least access to basic services.


Further information:

Gulnaz Isabekova (ed.) (2018): Access to Healthcare, Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103

Gulnaz Isabekova (2018): Healthcare Workers in the Southern Caucasus: Availability, Migration and Patients’ Access to Healthcare, in: Caucasus Analytical Digest No. 103, pp. 6-17, DOI: 10.3929/ethz-b-000269801

The publication is available online.


Contact:
Gulnaz Isabekova
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57073
E-Mail: gulnaz@uni-bremen.de