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.


Simon Gerards Iglesias, Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
Simon Gerards Iglesias, Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
Delia González de Reufels and Simon Gerards Iglesias talk about the results of project B02, how they dealt with pandemic-related constraints and what is particularly appealing about the cooperation between history and political science.

You were faced with the monumental task of examining 90 years of socio-political development in three countries - how did you structure this huge task?

Simon Gerards Iglesias: There are different focal points for the three countries. I am examining the case of Argentina and have placed a focus on the International Labour Organisation (ILO), which has only existed since 1919. I have defined the following years up to the Second World War as the central period of investigation, because in this phase certain structures dominated relations between the ILO and Argentina and the foundations were laid for the future development of relations.

The period under study in the project is indeed long, yet it can be meaningfully considered because it is criss-crossed by long lines of development. What has always been important, for example, is the transnational exchange of knowledge. I also see this in Argentina from the 19th century until today: people are always looking at what is happening in Europe. And another point: we find certain path dependencies. If we look at the labour protection laws for women in Argentina and other Latin American countries, for example, we find that there were quite restrictive regulations here very early on. They were actually more restrictive than in Europe. In Argentina there were laws such as the Ley de silla, translated as the "chair law": In every industrial company, a chair had to be available for every employed woman, which was intended for recreational breaks. This was because in Argentina women's health was primarily linked to concerns about the health of mothers and thus the future generation, which is why women were allowed more rest breaks at work. Even today, this law can be found in a certain form so that attentive travellers can discover chairs everywhere in Argentina, even in the most curious places. The background, however, only becomes clear to those who can relate to Argentina's labour protection laws.

Delia González de Reufels: In the example Simon gave, one can see very clearly that social policy has left visible traces up to the present day and has responded to the concerns of the respective countries: The countries of the Cono Sur had precarious demographics in the 19th and also in the early 20th century. In Europe, where the population was growing exponentially at the time, employers may have been relatively relaxed about the fact that pregnant women were also at the machine and worked extreme hours. But it was different in the Cono Sur: there were fewer children and this was identified as a problem and taken up by social policy. The "Ley de silla" may seem bizarre today, but the future of the nation was decided at the workbench, at least when a pregnant woman was standing at it. Not surprisingly, population development was one of the lines of development along which social discussions unfolded, which can be followed very well over 90 years.

And during these nine decades, fortunately, events do not come thick and fast every year. It is rather a process of accumulation with important points of culmination. First of all, there had to be an awareness of the problem. The state did not immediately take on all problems, but rather made a selection. In Chile, our period of investigation begins in the 19th century, and in 1850 the government said for the first time that it was unacceptable for people to go to hospitals to die. These were so poorly equipped that patients had no chance of being cured. So in 1850, for the first time, there was a discussion about how government money, or more precisely: revenue from trade and customs duties, could be diverted into the development of a functioning hospital system. Until then, health had been a private matter, but in 1850, the Chilean state steps into this responsibility for the first time and begins to understand public health as a field of political action. And from that moment on, the field of health policy expands to include other elements. To observe this, the 90 years are actually ideal.

Your work is not only divided spatially, but also thematically. Delia, you mainly study the development of health policy in Chile, while Simon studies occupational health and safety in Argentina. How did this division come about?

Delia González de Reufels: All social policy fields are of course effective in all these countries. But in the case of Chile, I have noticed that many developments in occupational health and safety have emerged from health protection. In other words, from the observation that certain working conditions undermine people's health. This observation was made in the health sector, and therefore it made sense to focus on health policy.

And in the case of Argentina, we have occupational health and safety as a focus because the ILO Office for Latin America was established in Buenos Aires: After South America was initially administered from Madrid, the ILO moved to Buenos Aires with its own office and was present there. In order to be able to depict this development and its consequences in the project, we have made this separation. This gives a more complete picture than if all the developments in all the countries were traced.

Simon Gerards Iglesias: The separation also helps us to be able to apply the historiographic magnifying glass, i.e. this analytical approach, despite the large time period. This is only possible with a thematic division. On labour protection: In Argentina there was an important law in 1915 that redefined labour protection for industrial workers: it regulated compensation for accidents at work and for the first time gave the working class an important enforceable right to monetary compensation, which was a big step towards the later social insurance. Many regulations followed this law, and many bilateral agreements with European states were also concluded as a result. This example shows that social policy in the early 20th century had many transnational linkages and that rights for minority groups, such as foreign workers, were already introduced at an early stage in the development of the welfare state.

Delia González de Reufels: In Argentina, the work of a supranational organisation that looked at both areas - work and health - is becoming prominent. For health protection, we could have focused on the PAHO, founded in 1902. However, in Chile, health policy began much earlier and was closely linked to the professionalisation of medicine, which was of particular interest to us here because it was of great importance for the development of public health. So we have history before the foundation of PAHO to capture. And it is particularly important that the ILO takes up issues that have been discussed before on the part of public health. Through our division in the project, we have been able to capture this dynamic.

What other major influencing factors or mechanisms for social policy developments have you encountered in your work?

Delia González de Reufels: It was confirmed that the countries observed each other closely and also learned from each other and took up each other's initiatives. There was an intrinsic motivation to make a difference in the fields identified as important through their own measures, but there was also competition between them. Argentina and Chile observed each other very closely, even though there was a neighbour in the region, Uruguay, which was very reform-oriented and defined itself very much in terms of social policy progress. Nevertheless, the Chileans and Argentines looked to each other. And towards Europe, of course.

Simon Gerards Iglesias: Argentines looked in many directions, but always towards Europe. Argentines didn't really consider themselves Latin Americans, they always emphasised their special connection to Europe. You can find this in fashion, architecture and so on. Europe is then also an important reference point in social legislation. Spain is not seen as an old colonial power, and if it is, then as a positive one that introduced the first social laws with the so-called "Leyes de Indias". Argentina knew that it was not as industrialised as Europe, but at the same time it wanted to become so and copied many things - industrialisation, but also the related social legislation.

What is important with regard to the role of the ILO: I have the impression that the conventions and recommendations do not have that much influence on national social legislation. It is the classic problem of international cooperation: one only agrees on the lowest common denominator. As a result, many conventions are relatively weak and vague, they leave a lot of room for interpretation without really establishing a higher standard. This is clearly the case in Argentina. Here, conventions were ratified very late and only implemented in certain areas. They cherry-picked conventions for areas where there were already very sophisticated laws. As a result, the conventions usually had neither a positive nor a negative impact on Argentine legislation.

Nevertheless, the ILO was a very important actor: namely as a platform and hinge for knowledge generation in social policy. The ILO was the first and, at that time, the only organisation capable of carrying out large-scale comparative studies. It had also built up a huge library and archives that were used by Argentines. You can tell that from looking at the correspondences. Especially in the field of social security, a lot was requested from the ILO because it had built up an incredible wealth of knowledge.

You report that these countries looked very much to their neighbours and to Europe. The world was not as interconnected then as it is today. What were the ways of exchange?

Delia González de Reufels: The world was much more interconnected back then than we often imagine today. Back then, there were close connections, not by plane, but by ship. If we look at the organisations, but also the military, they were highly mobile personalities who could travel and see things in Europe for themselves. The same goes for doctors. Ideas travel with people, they also travel in writings. The actors read French, German, English and also Italian. Doctors in particular have mastered a wide range of European languages in order to be able to receive the specialist journals and to be at the cutting edge of their discipline; this at least applies to the luminaries. In the oldest medical journal, which is still published today, there was therefore always a kind of Reader's Digest that summarised what was being discussed in international journals. In this way, the entire medical profession could participate in medical advances. In some cases, one gets the impression that the authors were present when Robert Koch made another discovery; their enthusiasm about this is just as evident in the texts as the pride in their own discipline, which was constantly developing and would contribute to solving the problems of the time in Chile and elsewhere.

Simon Gerards Iglesias: There were also numerous attempts on the part of the ILO to have a stronger impact on these South American countries, to reach people and to enter the discourse. This began with Spanish-language publications in the 1920s. Then there were trips by ILO presidents, by Albert Thomas and Harold Buttler and other ILO personnel, who all travelled to Argentina, Uruguay and Chile to present the work of the ILO and to promote their organisation. On the other hand, there is interest and commitment from national authorities: The Argentine Labour Authority published papers from ILO conferences in its bulletin and their proceedings were translated into Spanish. This bulletin was read by social policy experts in Argentina, and so the debates and knowledge were carried into Argentina.

Argentina was always the most important country for the ILO to reach the whole of Latin America. This was because - as Delia says - Chile looked to Argentina and the smaller countries even more so. That's why, for example, Alejandro Unsain, a social lawyer from Argentina, was elected to a committee of the ILO, to the Executive Board. The declared feminist and socialist Alicia Moreau de Justo is also the only representative from a country in the southern hemisphere to become a member of the Commission for Women and Children. An attempt has thus been made to involve Argentinean actors, to bring them to Geneva and thus to promote exchange and the production of knowledge.

Delia González de Reufels: As a developed country, Argentina also had a special infrastructure to offer the ILO. This also applies to Chile. So in the 1930s, a large ILO meeting was held in Santiago. Chile enjoyed the fact that the world looked to Santiago. They were willing to pay for it, even in times when money was scarcer.  This also applies to the Congresses of Latin American Physicians, whose idea was developed in Chile. At the same time, the country organised the first congress, which was a further development of the first Chilean medical congress. Thus, national development and transnational development were closely interwoven.

We found that there were always eventful periods of time that were driven by transnational exchange as well as by domestic developments. Neither one nor the other alone is sufficient to explain the dynamics of social policy developments. There was always a link between the transnational and national levels. Only this created a dynamic that made change possible. This is true for all social policy areas.

You have spoken of your historiographical magnifying glass, yet you are part a CRC that is mostly about political science. What was challenging about this constellation and what was particularly fruitful?

Delia González de Reufels: It is challenging, that the two disciplines are used to look at different time spans. Historical science is operating very close to the source, and sometimes you don't see the bigger picture in the beginning, but have to work it out first. We are usually in the archives for a long time before we can start to falsify our theories and make statements on the basis of sources. Our colleagues in political science are much faster. But the CRC didn't start out of nowhere. There were years of preparation, it was also about developing a common language, uniting our perspectives and learning from each other. That's what makes it so exciting for me to this day. By the way, we mostly come to similar results and complement each other very well, even though we look at things differently.

Simon Gerards Iglesias: I think political science focuses very much on methods, e.g. causal mechanisms, which we also had to acquire first. We, on the other hand, have this source perspective, and it usually takes longer until we can present results. But it is a very fruitful cooperation. I learned a lot and was able to use theories on international relations for my dissertation.

Let's move on to an unpleasant topic: How did the Corona pandemic affect your project and your research?

Delia González de Reufels: It's really tough: we have travel funds that we can't use. At the moment it is completely uncertain when we will be allowed to travel again. And unlike many colleagues, we are bound to the printed word: we have to go to the library and the archives. There are ways around it: Through a contact in a Chilean library, I was able to have some material digitised and thus get access to sources. But of course, that is only an excerpt and cannot replace weeks of archival work. Because you have to know from a distance exactly where in which serial publication something relevant can be found. And you have to be sure that no mistakes are made during digitisation and that the collections are complete.

Simon Gerards Iglesias: Fortunately, I was in Argentina two years ago, right at the beginning of my dissertation phase, and was able to collect material there. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, the ILO has not let anyone into its archives, which is a shame and ultimately a bit incomprehensible. That is a huge problem. We have hardly been able to view any ILO archive material, only that which has already been digitised. That's a lot, but it doesn't include correspondence, letters and informal reports. Yet it is precisely these unofficial sources that we as historians are so interested in. And we still hope that the archives will be opened up in time to allow us to look at them.

Despite all this, what publications can we expect from you in the coming months?

Delia González de Reufels: A working paper will soon be published that presents the results of my research and that of Mónika Contreras and puts them up for discussion. This is about the field of social housing and how it affects a particular professional group: the Carabineros de Chile. This is a militarised and centralised police force, created in 1927 through a merger of various other police forces and present throughout Chile.This new national police force was quickly able to use the social housing legislation to make itself attractive as an employer and to turn the housing crisis in Santiago around in a positive way for the members of its own unit. Housing, after all, is more than just a place to live, it has an impact on family life, on health, on the social fabric. I also have two essays in the pipeline for which I can draw on archival material I was able to collect before Corona in Chile and the Conway Medical Library in Boston.

And as a project, we will contribute two chapters to a a volume that I am one of the editors of: The volume aims to look at the breadth and dynamics of global social policy dynamics. It was fun to present some of the results of our work in a short and concise form for our countries.

Simon, when will you complete your doctorate?

Simon Gerards Iglesias: I will probably finish in late summer. It will then be published a little later, i.e. after the colloquium. I also have a lot of material and sources that I haven't used yet. Based on that, I will still write paper, but that is only due in the second half of the year.


Contact:
Simon Gerards Iglesias
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft / FB 08
Universitäts-Boulevard 13
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67204
E-Mail: sgerards@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft / FB 08
Universitäts-Boulevard 13
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67200
E-Mail: dgr@uni-bremen.de

Shire met with CRC members and guests to present her new co-edited book “The Dynamics of Welfare Markets” and to discuss in detail the challenges in regulating cross-border labour in home-based domestic and care services.

Clémence Ledoux, Karen Shire and Franca van Hooren are editors of the book "The Dynamics of Welfare Markets - Private Pensions and Domestic/Care Services in Europe", recently published with Palgrave Macmillan. The contributions to this book are exploring and comparing the dynamics of the very different segments of the welfare market, private pensions and domestic and care services.

In her presentation, Karen Shire (University of Duisburg-Essen) focused on home-based domestic and care services and in particular on the case of Germany, where a few hundred thousand migrant care workers are employed in a wide variety of work arrangements. These workers have little to no recourse to union representation and collective bargaining, thus they find themselves often in vulnerable positions.

Karen Shire intensified the exchange with CRC 1342 in a workshop organised by project B07 together with Helma Lutz (Johann Wolfgang Goethe University Frankfurt). 

Dr. Stephen Devereux, Anna Wolkenhauer, PhD
Dr. Stephen Devereux, Anna Wolkenhauer, PhD
Our Mercator Fellow Stephen Devereux is investigating the role of international donors in the spread of social protection in Africa. Having published a CRC 1342 working paper, he is currently writing a paper with Anna Wolkenhauer on this topic.

Almost non-existent in Africa 20 years ago, social cash transfers targeted to the poor and vulnerable have been adopted today by the majority of countries in sub-Saharan Africa. In his CRC 1342 working paper, Stephen Devereux describes four causal mechanisms that are being discussed in the literature to have led to the rapid introduction of social protection programmes in Africa since the millennium - learning, com­petition, emulation, and coercion. Devereux then focuses on the pivotal role of transnational actors, specifically international development agencies, as ‘policy pollinators’ for social protection. By introducing ’policy pollination’, Devereux contributes a fifth mechanism to the literature on the diffusion of social protection in the Global South. “These agencies”, Devereux writes, “deployed a range of tactics to induce African governments to implement cash transfer programmes and establish social protection systems, including:

  1. building the empirical evidence base that cash transfers have posi­tive impacts, for advocacy purposes;
  2. financing social protection programmes until governments take over this responsibility;
  3. strengthening state capacity to deliver social protection, through technical assistance and training workshops;
  4. commissioning and co-authoring national social protection policies;
  5. encour­aging the domestication of international social protection law into national legis­lation."


Devereux does not make any judgement as to whether a donor-driven process of introducing social protection programmes is good or bad. But he raises the question about the extent “to which the agendas of development agencies are aligned or in conflict with national priorities, and whether social protection programmes and systems would flourish or wither if international support was withdrawn”.

At the moment, Stephen Devereux and CRC 1342 member Anna Wolkenhauer are looking even more closely at international development agencies in pushing for the adoption of cash transfer programmes by African governments. They argue for making individual agents and their agendas central in the analysis of such policy diffusion, and they do this by analysing the social protection policy diffusion process in Zambia through three individual agents located between the national and the international.

Devereux and Wolkenhauer presented their draft paper at an InIIS/CRC 1342 colloquium in mid-May and have received valuable feedback by colleagues from the University of Bremen as well as international researchers. They are planning to submit the refined version of their paper within the next couple of weeks to an international peer-reviewed journal.

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Read Stephen Devereux’s working paper: Policy pollination. A brief history of social protection’s brief history in Africa


Contact:
Dr. Stephen Devereux
Library Road
BN1 9RE Brighton
Phone: +44 1273 915802
E-Mail: s.devereux@ids.ac.uk

Anna Wolkenhauer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67463
E-Mail: anna.wolkenhauer@uni-bremen.de

The scientific advisory board met with the CRC 1342 board of directors to discuss the research projects that are being planned for the second funding phase.

Last Friday, the CRC 1342 Board met with the Scientific Advisory Board in a two-hour video conference. From the Advisory Board, Evelyne Huber (University of North Carolina), Kathleen Thelen (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Nicola Yeates (The Open University), Ben Ross Schneider (Massachusetts Institute of Technology), Aaron Benavot (University of Albany-SUNY) and Lutz Leisering (Bielefeld University) participated in the meeting.

At the beginning, speaker Herbert Obinger reported on the progress of the work in the 15 projects and the current status of publications.

Evelyne Huber called the CRC "incredibly ambitious" and said that the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) database "looked very promising". Especially in recent months, the number of publications by CRC members has increased significantly. For Aaron Benavot, "the productivity and output - even under the conditions of the pandemic with the associated restrictions - are very impressive".

Lutz Leisering noted that the publications of CRC 1342 members in peer-reviewed journals represent a great leap forward for the international visibility of German social policy research.

The CRC 1342 publishes a large proportion of its results in open access journals, its open access book series with Palgrave Macmillan and in its own open access publications. This publishing strategy produces "invaluable resources for scholars, students and the general public", said Nicola Yeates.

In the second part of the meeting, the advisory board members discussed the CRC 1342 proposal for the second funding phase (in the days before, they had read a summary of the proposal). With their questions, comments and constructive criticisms, the advisory boards gave valuable advice on research planning for the coming years.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58567
E-Mail: herbert.obinger@uni-bremen.de

In "Social Policy & Administration", 7 CRC 1342 projects have presented case studies of social policy dynamics in the Global South. Their synthesis shows: The concept of causal mechanisms is particularly well suited for analysing such dynamics.

Seven projects of CRC 1342's project area B have published a Special Regional Issue of "Social Policy & Administration": Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. The main research question the authors address is: Which causal mechanisms can capture the transnational dynamics of social policy in the Global South?

In order to find answers to this question, the authors present in‐depth case studies of social policy dynamics in different countries and regions in the Global South as well as different fields. All articles focus on the interplay of national and transnational actors when it comes to social policy‐making. (The papers of this Special Issue are listed below.)

The key findings of the authors are:

  • Explanations of social policy‐making in the Global South will remain incomplete unless transnational factors are taken into account
  • However, this does not mean that national factors are no longer important. In social policy decision‐making, national institutional settings and actors are key
  • Mechanism‐based research can plausibly trace the interplay between transnational and national actors and its impact on shaping social policy outcomes. The articles identify a variety of causal mechanisms that can capture this interplay
  • The output of social policy‐making is complex and can often not be explained by a single mechanism. Examining the combination and possible interaction of several causal mechanisms can provide more in‐depth explanations 
  • The concept of causal mechanisms can also be applied in comparative analyses
  • Mechanisms can be traced inductively in one case and then be applied to another case.


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Johanna Kuhlmann & Tobias ten Brink (2021). Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12725

Armin Müller (2021). Bureaucratic conflict between transnational actor coalitions: The diffusion of British national vocational qualifications to China. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12689

Johanna Kuhlmann & Frank Nullmeier (2021). A mechanism‐based approach to the comparison of national pension systems in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12691

Kressen Thyen & Roy Karadag (2021). Between affordable welfare and affordable food: Internationalized food subsidy reforms in Egypt and Tunisia. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12710

Monika Ewa Kaminska, Ertila Druga, Liva Stupele & Ante Malinar (2021). Changing the healthcare financing paradigm: Domestic actors and international organizations in the agenda setting for diffusion of social health insurance in post‐communist Central and Eastern Europe. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12724

Gulnaz Isabekova & Heiko Pleines (2021). Integrating development aid into social policy: Lessons on cooperation and its challenges learned from the example of health care in Kyrgyzstan. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12669

Anna Safuta (2021). When policy entrepreneurs fail: Explaining the failure of long‐term care reforms in Poland. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12714

Jakob Henninger & Friederike Römer (2021). Choose your battles: How civil society organisations choose context‐specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12721


Contact:
Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58574
E-Mail: johanna.kuhlmann@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Tobias ten Brink
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research IV and China Global Center
Campus Ring 1
28759 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 200-3382
E-Mail: t.tenbrink@jacobs-university.de

Dr. Alex Veit, Dr. Clement Chipenda
Dr. Alex Veit, Dr. Clement Chipenda
Clement Chipenda and Alex Veit analyse South Africa's food policy developments by looking at school feeding programmes and subsidies. Available as a new CRC 1342 working paper.

Their working paper offers a chronological analysis of South African food policy from the founding of South Africa as a semi-autonomous settler state to the democratic revolution.

Drawing on primary sources from archives and secondary literature, Chipenda and Veit compare two food security policies: school feeding programmes and food subsidies. In the period between the world wars, food scarcity and insecurity became an increasing problem, making food policy a fundamental part of the expanding welfare state. Free school meals were an important instrument from which all children benefited until the apartheid regime came to power in the late 1940s. The regime then excluded African children from the school meals.Contradictory at first sight, another food policy instrument remained in place under the apartheid regime from which all, including African populations, benefited and which was even expanded over the years: general food subsidies.

To explain these developments, Chipenda and Veit analyse the figuration of actors and their interdependencies:

  • the dominant, nationalist forces of the white political establishment, which denied responsibility for the welfare of the African population
  • the liberal, democratic, philanthropic and church groups that demanded food security for all population groups
  • industrialists, especially from the agricultural and extractive sectors, who stressed the importance of a healthy, numerous working population.


The dependence of South Africa's agricultural and extractive industries on cheap African labour, may have been the deciding factor, leading to central government regulation and subsidisation of the agricultural and food markets. But Chipenda and Veit point to the "peculiar figuration" of nationalist, capitalist, liberal, philanthropic forces that agreed to act together on food policy, albeit for different interests.

Read the full Working Paper: The trajectory of food security policies in South Africa, 1910-1994. The persistence of food subsidies


Contact:
Dr. Alex Veit
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67471
E-Mail: veit@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Dennis Niemann
Dr. Dennis Niemann
How do international organisations influence the global dynamics of social policy? The fourth volume of the our series at Palgrave Macmillan addresses this question. In this interview co-editor Dennis Niemann explains some findings.

The aim of your book is to analyse the "architecture of arguments in global social governance". Put simply, you proceed in two steps: First, you map the field (which IOs are engaged in which social policy issues?), then you examine the discourse (which strategies do IOs use to try to make their ideas and concepts heard?). Let's start with the first part: About 100 years ago, the field was small; with the ILO, there was exactly one IO that dealt with social policy and that still exists today. How has the field expanded and differentiated since then?

Dennis Niemann: That's right, the general trend that there have been more and more international organisations since the end of the Second World War also applies to social policy. Surprisingly, there are some central actors that cover almost the entire spectrum of social policy. The OECD, the ILO and the World Bank pop up again and again and shape various areas. But UNESCO, the UN's educational, scientific and cultural organisation, is also active in many social policy fields. However, we also observed that the overall population of social policy IOs became more diverse over time. Not only the large, well-known IOs are involved, but also many other IOs, some of them regional, have appeared on the scene to cover social policy issues: e.g. ASEAN, African Union or Mercosur.

Over time, many IOs have added social policy issues to their portfolio or expanded their social policy portfolio to other fields. Why is that?

Dennis Niemann: There are two main reasons for this. On the one hand, the IOs were actively mandated by their member states to deal with certain social policy issues - even though historically they did not have much expertise in this area. For example, the OECD, whose thematic focus was on economic policy, was commissioned in the 1980s by some member states to develop an instrument to measure national educational performance. The result was PISA and today the OECD is a central IO in international education policy. In general, education policy is particularly densely populated with 30 active IOs. On the other hand, this thematic expansion was also due to internal organisational factors, i.e. the IOs proactively expanded their portfolio. This happened, for example, because it enabled them to better fulfil their actual core mission.

We also should not neglect the fact that certain policy fields were discursively expanded to include a social policy component. For example, the interpretation of water as a natural resource has expanded to include a social policy component: water and access to it is a social good.

Let's move on to the second part of your analysis, the discourses. In the social policy areas you can find a lot of active IOs. Do they cooperate or compete with each other?

Dennis Niemann: Both. Of course, the fundamental views of certain IOs on priorities in social policy are quite diverse and partly bipolar. While one side prefers economic efficiency, other IOs want to see social cohesion guaranteed first and foremost. These two perspectives are often difficult to reconcile. But it is not impossible. We see that pragmatic approaches are taken in numerous initiatives and that IOs from different "families" cooperate productively in specific projects. For example, the World Bank, OECD and ILO have developed a common approach in family policy since 2008. Something similar can be observed in areas of youth unemployment and the migration of health care workers.

You write that the tendency to cooperate has increased in the last 10 years or so. Why is that?

Dennis Niemann: Well, I think that all kinds of IOs are increasingly able to combine their programmatic points of view - perhaps due to the rather basic cooperation projects that have been started. We should not forget, however, that in social policy, different ideas often continue to compete; perhaps just no longer in fundamental opposition. The fact that certain values have become more universal and valid certainly also plays a role in increased cooperation. A catalyst for this were the Millennium Development Goals and the Sustainable Development Goals of the UN. They established certain normative reference points for IOs in social policy, which increasingly guide their arguments and actions. And a common basis of values makes cooperation much easier.

Some IOs are dominant in the social policy discourse. What factors cause an IO to dominate a field or at least to take an influential position?

Dennis Niemann: First and foremost, probably timing and resources. When IOs hit the zeitgeist, they enjoy an additional legitimacy that enables them to determine social policy discourses. IOs that also have the necessary resources to implement their programmatic guidelines can obviously have a more influential effect than IOs that lack these resources to generate outreach.

Finally, let's take a look at the future: The influence of IOs on social policy has increased in the past. Will this trend continue or even reverse in some areas?

Dennis Niemann: My crystal ball may be a little foggy on this, but in principle we have always seen an increase in the importance of IOs in social policy in the past. At the moment I can't think of many reasons that would cause a reversal of the trend. What I could imagine, however, and what is also emerging to some extent, is that individual IOs will lose significance and others, e.g. the big players, will become even bigger. Likewise, the discursive camp formation could become more pronounced again. In general, however, one should not ignore the social policy outcomes. As long as the IOs "deliver", i.e. can point out solutions to socio-political problems and help shape them, they will continue to be central actors in this field and will still present us with many exciting research tasks.

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Read the full book (open access):
Kerstin Martens, Dennis Niemann, Alexandra Kaasch (eds.)(2021): International Organizations in Global Social Governance. Palgrave Macmillan. Cham


Contact:
Dr. Dennis Niemann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67473
E-Mail: dniemann@uni-bremen.de

Network of global economic competition on export-markets
Network of global economic competition on export-markets
Ivo Mossig, Hendrik Heuer, Michael Lischka and Fabian Besche-Truthe have developed two new indicators to better study the relationship between competition and social policy. The associated data sets comprise annual data on interdependence for 164 countrie

CRC 1342 members Ivo Mossig, Hendrik Heuer, Michael Lischka and Fabian Besche-Truthe have developed two indicators that capture economic competition between countries in a novel way. As a result, the link between economic competition and social policy developments can be analysed more precisely. The four authors have described in detail how the indicators are calculated in Volume 8 of the CRC 1342 Technical Paper Series: Measuring global competition in export markets and export sectors. In the following interview, Ivo Mossig explains briefly what it is all about.

In what ways is international competition a factor in the diffusion of social policy?

Ivo Mossig: Our Collaborative Research Centre aims to explain the dynamics of social policy not only based on the national constellation, but also on international interdependencies, including economic relationships. Competition is discussed - somewhat controversially - in two respects in this context: On the one hand, there is the efficiency thesis, according to which states regard social benefits as a burden in international competition. According to this theory, the consequence is a "race to the bottom": in order to achieve cost advantages, social standards and benefits are reduced. On the other hand, there is the compensation theory: small economies in particular are often active in highly specialised segments on the world market. And their overall economy depends very much on their world market integration because they do not have a large domestic market. As a buffer, e.g. to cushion unforeseen developments and shocks on the world markets, social systems are expanded. Despite these controversial theses, one thing is indisputable: competition, and especially economic competition, is a relevant factor for the development of social policy.

How do you operationalise this competition? How do you make it measurable?

Ivo Mossig: In the past, the degree of trade linkages served as an indicator, e.g. the size of trade flows between countries. If country A mainly exports coffee and country B computer monitors, then there is global trade integration, but country A and B are not necessarily in competition with each other, but complement each other.

That is why we have now come up with two new indicators: One indicator represents competition in export markets, for which we look at the importance of the individual sales markets for each of the countries, measured in terms of export volume. If two countries have proportionally similar sales markets, they meet as competitors on the sales markets. With a second indicator we measure competition between countries in export sectors. If the exports of two countries are distributed across similar sectors, then they are competitors on the world market in these sectors: if the export focus is on different goods and services, they are not.

Are there major differences between the two indicators?

Ivo Mossig: Definitely. In the technical paper we use Norway as an example to demonstrate the difference very clearly: In Norway's export markets, other Scandinavian countries are the main competitors because Norway exports a lot to EU countries, as do Finland and Denmark. If we look at the economic sectors, Norway's main competitors are, on the other hand, the United Arab Emirates or Colombia, because in these countries, as in Norway, oil is the predominant export product.

How large is your data set?

Ivo Mossig: The dataset ranges from 1962 to 2017/2018, with values for each year. And it covers not only the OECD world, but 164 countries. For each of these 57 years, we have a numerical value regarding competition in markets and export sectors for every possible country pair, so over 13,000 linkages per year and indicator. The next step is now to analyse whether this new data can be used to better capture the competition argument with regard to global dynamics of social policy development, i.e. whether we can contribute to sharpening the competition argument.

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Read the full paper: Measuring global competition in export markets and export sectors


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Ivo Mossig
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 / 421 / 218 67410
E-Mail: mossig@uni-bremen.de

Book four of the series, edited by Kerstin Martens, Dennis Niemann and Alexandra Kaasch, examines the influence of International Organisations on the development of several social policy fields.

International organisations (IOs) are important political actors that affect the development of many social policy fields. The volume "International Organizations in Global Social Governance" enhances and systematises our understanding of the role IOs play in global social policy.

In 14 chapters, the authors shed light on the engagement of IOs in the social policy fields of labour, migration, family, education, as well as environment and health. They record which IOs are involved in the discourse in each field and which trends they set. The authors also examine the discourse within and between the IOs. This book thus makes a significant contribution to research on social policy and international relations, both in terms of theoretical substantiation and the empirical scope.

The book is based on an international workshop of the CRC 1342 project A05 "The Global Development, Diffusion and Transformation of Education Systems", which took place at the University of Bremen in May 2019.

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Read the full book (open access):
International Organizations in Global Social Governance


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67498
E-Mail: martensk@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Dennis Niemann
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67473
E-Mail: dniemann@uni-bremen.de

Project B06 has published a special issue in "Global Social Policy": In 7 articles, B06 members and guest authors analyse the role of international actors in the introduction of social policy concepts in post-Soviet states.

The authors of this special issue examine how the transfer of social policy concepts - and subsequently learning - takes place at the national and local level in the post-Soviet region. They focus on the question of which international and national actors are involved in this process. They analyse the interaction between international organisations (IOs) and national governments, between IOs and national experts, and between IOs and local non-governmental organisations (NGOs).

The four members of the CRC project B06, Andreas Heinrich, Heiko Pleines, Gulnaz Isabekova and Martin Brand, have contributed to this issue.

In his article "The advice they give: Knowledge transfer of international organisations in countries of the former Soviet Union", Andreas Heinrich reviews the assumptions in the literature about the neoliberal agenda ('Washington Consensus') promoted by international organisations through knowledge transfer and about the power they supposedly have through loan conditionality to impose their will on countries in financial need. Heinrich uses the countries of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Russia as examples to examine the advice that IOs have given to reform health care systems between 1991 and 2018.

Heiko Pleines analysed the content of parliamentary debates in Russia and Ukraine for his contribution "The framing of IMF and World Bank in political reform debates: The role of political orientation and policy fields in the cases of Russia and Ukraine". In both countries, both left-wing and right-wing parties rejected cooperation with the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Nevertheless, Ukraine is one of the largest recipients of IMF loans. Due to the lack of support from parliament, the Ukrainian government retreated to the argument that no other donors were available for the reforms.

Gulnaz Isabekova looks at knowledge transfer at the local level in her contribution. Her article "Mutual learning on the local level: The Swiss Red Cross and the Village Health Committees in the Kyrgyz Republic" focuses on the interaction between IOs and local NGOs, and in particular on mutual learning between donors and recipients of development aid. For this, Isabekova examines the international project "Community Action for Health", which aims to empower rural communities in Kyrgyzstan and promote their participation in health care. Her article analyses the factors that enable mutual learning in practice. According to the article, the decentralisation of the organisation, project management and its handling of failure, continuous contact between donors and recipients of development assistance and the emphasis on the contribution of local expertise are relevant.

In his contribution "The OECD poverty rate: Lessons from the Russian case", Martin Brand emphasises the need to make normative assumptions about poverty explicit when using poverty data. In particular, for cross-national comparisons of poverty rates, Brand argues for a multidimensional poverty indicator so that several facets of this phenomenon and the specificities of the socio-economic fabric of the countries under consideration are taken into account.

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The special issue in "Global Social Policy" emerged from an international workshop on "International knowledge transfer in social policy: The case of the post-Soviet region", which was organised by project B06 at the University of Bremen on 9 November 2019.

Read the entire issue online (individual articles open access):
Global Social Policy, Volume 21 Issue 1, April 2021


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

Dr. Andreas Heinrich
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57071
E-Mail: heinrich@uni-bremen.de

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

Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602
E-Mail: pleines@uni-bremen.de