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.


Our project A04 is offering a research position focused on the development of health care systems, especially in former colonies in Africa. Salary scale TV-L 13 (part-time 65 %), starting as soon as possible.

At the University of Bremen the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" invites applications for the following academic position (under the condition of job release):

PhD Researcher (f/m/d)
Salary Scale TV-L 13, part-time 65%, start date: as soon as possible.
The position is a fixed term position until June 30th, 2026. Reference number: A367/22

The time limitation is based on § 2 (1) WissZeitVG (Wissenschaftszeitvertragsgesetz, i.e. temporary science employment act). Therefore, candidates may only be considered who dispose of the respective scope of qualification periods according to § 2 (1) WissZeitVG.

The position is part of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC) "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" (Globale Entwicklungsdynamiken von Sozialpolitik) funded by the German Research Foundation and will be located within the project A04: Global developments in health care systems

Project Description

The Collaborative Research Centre 1342 (CRC 1342) "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG) since January 2018, examines public social policy in a global and historical perspective. In the second phase of the CRC (January 2022 - December 2025), research will focus on how social policy programs have evolved in terms of coverage and generosity after their adoption. The CRC is divided into two project areas: Project Area A consists of six projects that examine the coverage and generosity of eight social policy areas across the globe. The eight projects of project area B examine dynamics related to coverage and benefit generosity in selected countries and regions from all continents. In an information infrastructure project, the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) will be developed further.

Project A04 is based at the University of Bremen and led by Heinz Rothgang, Lorraine Frisina Doetter, and Sebastian Haunss. It focuses on the development of health care systems worldwide. Adopting mixed-methods, the project has three main goals. First, it quantitatively traces and maps how and why health care systems have changed the inclusiveness and scope of health care services during the last 140 years in a macro perspective. Second, using macro-quantitative methods, it explains these changes with respect to national constellation and political, social, and economic interdependencies between national states and global actors. Third, by way of case studies, the project qualitatively analyses the impact of colonial legacies in the birth of health care systems in Kenya and Nigeria.

Responsibilities

The successful candidate will mainly assume tasks related to data collection and analysis. Responsibilities include

  • Qualitative data collection on the introduction of social and health policies in former colonies in Africa through expert interview, literature and archival research, and field work
  • Data management and documentation
  • Qualitative descriptive and explanatory analyses of the introduction and further developments of health care systems, with the use of process-tracing and other qualitative methods
  • Participation in project-related publications, events, and networking activities (e.g. organizing workshops, co-editing the CRC Social Policy Country Brief Series, communication with country experts)


The successful candidate will prepare a PhD dissertation thematically related to the project, to be completed in June 2026.

Requirements

  • Master Degree in the social sciences or related fields with excellent academic credential
  • Good knowledge about social policies, comparative welfare or comparative health care system research
  • Experience with / good knowledge of qualitative research methods (e.g. interviews, document analysis, and process-tracing)
  • Excellent English-language skills (spoken and written)
  • Strong communications skills and willingness to collaborate within the project team and CRC
  • Willingness to travel


Desirable

  • Knowledge about health care policies / systems
  • Knowledge about social policies in Africa
  • Knowledge about legacies of colonialism in former colonies, especially former British colonies
  • Experience in working with qualitative content analysis software (e.g. NVivo, MaxQDA)
  • Experience in archival research
  • Working knowledge of German preferred (or strong interest and willingness to learn German)
  • Knowledge of additional languages are an asset


General information

The university is family-friendly, diverse and sees itself as an international university. We therefore welcome all applicants regardless of gender, nationality, ethnic and social origin, religion/belief, disability, age, sexual orientation and identity.

The University is committed to a policy of providing equal employment opportunities for both men and women alike, and therefore strongly encourages women to apply for the positions offered. Disabled applicants will be given priority if their professional and personal qualifications are essentially the same.

If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact Gabriela de Carvalho (decarvalho@uni-bremen.de).

Applications including a cover letter, CV, publication list (where applicable), copies of degree certificates, and a sample of academic writing (e.g. Master Thesis, published papers, or term paper) should be submitted by February 26th, 2023 with the reference number A367/22 to:

SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
Postfach 33 04 40
28334 Bremen


or by e-mail (including up to two PDF files; reference number) to: decarvalho@uni-bremen.de

The costs of application and presentation cannot be reimbursed.


Contact:
Dr. Gabriela de Carvalho
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57078
E-Mail: decarvalho@uni-bremen.de

Irene Dingeldey and Ulrich Mückenberger edited the latest issue of the International Labour Review, which focuses on the concept of legal segmentation that was developed in the CRC 1342.

The International Labour Organisation (ILO) has published the Special Issue Overcoming legal segmentation: Extending legal rules to all workers? in its journal International Labour Review. The volume was edited by Irene Dingeldey and Ulrich Mückenberger ( project A03) and features results from the first funding period of the CRC 1342 on the concept of legal segmentation (i.e. labour market segmentations that stem from state law) and related quantitative results. The Special Issue is supplemented by regional studies by recognised experts on South Asia, Latin America and Southern Africa, which essentially confirm the argument that law plays a segmenting role, which has only been moderated in recent decades by equalising normative elements. In this volume, the ILO also includes the critical view that its own norm-setting practice is characterised by legal segmentation and has only recently given more space to universalising regulation.

The ILO's International Labour Review is published in English, Spanish and French, which means that the results of project A03 enter into a global discourse among academics, practitioners and political decision-makers involved in social policy.

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Ulrich Mückenberger & Irene Dingeldey (2022): Overcoming legal segmentation: Extending legal rules to all workers?, International Labour Review (Special Issue), Volume 161 (4). https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/toc/1564913x/2022/161/4


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Irene Dingeldey
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute Labour and Economy
Wiener Straße 9 / Ecke Celsiusstraße
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-61710
E-Mail: dingeldey@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Mückenberger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Faculty of Law
Universitätsallee, GW1
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-66218
E-Mail: mueckenb@uni-bremen.de

Tasks include literature research and support of archival research. The working hours are up to 37 hours per month.

At the University of Bremen, the following positions are available in the Collaborative Research Centre 1342's project "Global developments in health care systems": 

Student Assistants with up to 37 hrs/month

Start date: As soon as possible. The position is temporary, but a longer-term employment is intended.

The project is a part of the DFG-funded Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" and is directed by Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang, Prof. Dr. Sebastian Haunss and Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter.

The aim of the project is to map and analyse healthcare system introductions and developments in former British colonies, i.e. Nigeria and Kenya.

Tasks

  • Literature research
  • Supporting the preparation of archival research
  • Supporting on administrative tasks

 Requirements

  • Enrolled in a German University
  • Excellent command of English
  • Knowledge of social policies, especially healthcare policies
  • Experience in literature research and qualitative research in general
  • Independent, reliable and organised working style
  • Interest in social policy, health policy and/or health inequality
     

Desirable

  • Experience with reference management software, especially Zotero
  • Knowledge of and/or strong interest in African countries


Deadline for application: Rolling basis until positions are filled.

Please send applications with CV and short letter of motivation stating expected graduation date to Gabriela de Carvalho (decarvalho@uni-bremen.de).


Contact:
Dr. Gabriela de Carvalho
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57078
E-Mail: decarvalho@uni-bremen.de

Fritz Kusch (Photo: BIGSSS)
Fritz Kusch (Photo: BIGSSS)
Fritz Kusch is searching U.S. archives for evidence that protectionism and social policy are intertwined. In our interview, he takes stock of his initial findings and recalls scribbled notes by William II that he tried to decipher for his master's thesis.

Dear Fritz, you've been at the CRC for about half a year now - what did you do before that?

I studied history as a major and political science as a minor in Freiburg and graduated with a Bachelor's degree. During this time, I was also at a university in Istanbul, where I got to know and appreciate the Turkish language. I also started to study Turkish and Ottoman history. This then led me to start a second Bachelor's programme after graduating from Freiburg: Turkish Studies at the Free University of Berlin.

Parallel to your Turkology studies, you also completed a Master's degree ...

I did a Master's in History with a focus on North America. US history has been a passion of mine for a long time. There are very few points of contact between North American and Turkish-Ottoman history, but I actually consider that more of an advantage: it is definitely rewarding to look at completely different topics and contexts. This often gives you a new, fresh perspective on the individual topics.

What was your Master's thesis about?

About two statues of Friedrich Wilhelm von Steuben, erected in Washington in 1910 and in Potsdam in 1911. The subject combines the history of remembrance, migration and diplomacy. Steuben was a Prussian general who fought in the American War of Independence and became an ethnic hero for the ethnic German population in America. A kind of symbolic representative for the status of German Americans in the American immigrant society. Around the turn of the century, several ethnic groups in the USA campaigned for statues of their respective Ethnic Heroes to be erected in public spaces. In Lafayette Square behind the White House in Washington, for example, two statues of French generals from the War of Independence were erected. Other groups, such as the German-Americans, noticed this and demanded a statue of Steuben, which was also passed by Congress in 1902. Foreign powers, such as the German Empire, also noticed this and entered into this somewhat convoluted process of statue erections and gifts, whereby the prestige rivalry of ethnic groups also became a diplomatic prestige rivalry. The German Empire gave the USA a statue of Frederick the Great: a poorly thought-out gift that also went down rather badly in the USA - after all, Frederick was an absolute monarch! The American government did not erect the statue in the city, but very discreetly in the War Academy. In addition, the erection was delayed for more than two years; in other words, the statue was hidden away. It was not until 1910 that the German-Americans received their Steuben statue, which they and certainly the US government understood as a sign of their belonging to the American nation. The USA then in turn gave a copy of the statue to the German Reich as a diplomatic counter-gift to the Frederick statue. This copy was inaugurated in Potsdam in 1911. There you can see how German-American prestige aspirations intersected with German-American diplomacy. Moreover, the same Steuben statue was charged with very different meanings in Potsdam and Washington: For German-Americans, both statues honoured their Ethnic Hero and thus indirectly actually the group of German-Americans as a whole, but for the German Reich government, the Potsdam statue was a symbol of a supposed German-American friendship that had always existed.

How did you research the details of this story?

Unfortunately, I couldn't travel to Washington, so I researched everything in Berlin archives. My sources were mainly dispatches between the embassy in Washington and the government in Berlin, which I was able to see in the political archives of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs. I also researched in the Secret State Archives. Among other things, I found out that the statues were clearly more important to the Kaiser and his staff than one would assume. Wilhelm the Second dealt with them in quite some detail: The idea for the Frederick statue goes directly back to him, he personally chose the site for the Steuben statue in Potsdam, he provided his court architect to redesign the square, and he wrote whimsical comments (which I was able to decipher to some extent, sometimes more, sometimes less) in the margins of the draft dispatches.

It must be quite fascinating to hold documents in your hand on which Wilhelm the Second scribbled with his fountain pen ...

Absolutely, although Wilhelm the Second did not use ink, but a pencil. Officials and diplomats at the time had a rather bureaucratised style of writing, which of course didn't apply to Wilhelm. This made it very easy to see what the Emperor himself had written: he simply wrote off the cuff.

A few weeks ago you were in the USA to do research for your work at the CRC. Where were you exactly what were you looking for?

I was in the US for two and a half months, mainly in Washington, but then also in Wilmington, Delaware, and in Hyde Park, New York. Our project investigates the connection between social policy and protectionism in the USA and Argentina, and I am responsible for the period 1890 to 1970 in the USA. The question was: Can I also demonstrate this connection, which is established in the social science discussion, by means of historians? I would need to find corresponding documents that show that the political actors actually discussed this connection, e.g. raising tariffs in order to fund social welfare programmes. I looked for it - but I didn't find anything on this, or only in rudimentary terms.

Where did you look for evidence?

I went to a whole series of archives. The Library of Congress, the Hagley Archives in Wilmington, the Franklin Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, the New York Public Library and the archives of the umbrella union AFL-CIO, housed at the University of Maryland. I spent most of my time at the National Archives in Washington, or College Park, looking through the files of the Departments of Commerce, State and Labour. It's easy to follow customs policy because the responsibilities are clear. This is not the case with social policy, which makes research immensely difficult. At the federal level, there was virtually no universal social policy until the New Deal. There was veterans' care, which is roughly related to tariffs through its funding. Since the 1960s, the US has had Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA), a social programme that provides assistance to the workforces of companies facing hardship from international competition: Benefits included retraining, relocation assistance and the like. That's interesting and hardly explored by historians so far, but I wasn't sure I could build a dissertation on it.

When did you realise that you weren't really finding what you were looking for?

Even before I had travelled to the USA. I had looked at the archive catalogues beforehand.

To what extent are the files there digitally searchable?

In the USA, this works very well. The catalogues are almost always online. In the National Archives, for very central files, the entire documents were scanned and are available online. So I can read them from Bremen. But that only applies to extremely important documents. For the main part of the collections, at least the Finding Aids are available digitally. Most of the time, you can see what's in an archive box down to the level of the individual folders. It says, for example, that the folders contain the minutes of Committee XY in a certain period, and if you're lucky, there's even a paragraph on what was discussed.

So I already had my doubts in Bremen that I would find enough material. At the same time, it was clear that I would never be able to look at all the material there - hundreds of archive boxes with hundreds of pages each. It would be unrealistic to look at all of it. Therefore, before my trip, I had thought about looking for something else. That's how it turned out: now I'm studying protectionist pressure groups, i.e. organisations that campaign for high tariffs. In the historical literature, these organisations do appear, but they are usually on the margins. The literature on tariff policy is often written by political scientists and economists. Neither have paid much attention to pressure groups. My initial research, however, showed that they were extremely engaged. Since the 1880s, there was a strong effort to bring protectionism into the public domain. This was also pursued with a lot of money, for example by the iron and steel industry.

Did these calls for more protectionism come only from the employers' associations or also from trade unions?

The associations are pretty clearly about the interests of capital. The largest federation I am researching is the American Protective Tariff League, founded in 1885. Together with a student assistant, I have already taken a closer look at who the actors were in it: Capitalists and Republican Party politicians. Tariff policy was partisan politics in those days: the Democrats were for low tariffs, the Republicans for high tariffs. When the American Protective Tariff League was founded, heavy labour conflicts were raging in the US, so industrialists were anything but worker-friendly. This is not to say that there were not protectionist sentiments in labour or that there were not attempts to win workers over to protectionist positions. Surprisingly, the interests of American workers appeared relatively frequently in the pressure groups' pamphlets and leaflets: The American standard of living and the relatively high wages compared to Europe depend, so the argument goes, on the protection provided by high tariffs. If this protection were to break down, the USA would be flooded with cheap European imports, as a result of which the American worker would no longer be able to enjoy this "great" prosperity. In the tariff issue, therefore, there is alignment of interests between corporations and workers, at least that is the reasoning. In addition, there is often the classic argument of infant industry: young industries must be developed under the protection of high tariffs; as soon as the industry is competitive, tariff protection is no longer needed. However, this argument became increasingly obsolete towards the end of the 19th century, as US industry was superior to European competition in many areas.

So from the US perspective, there were definitely good reasons to reduce protectionism.

Absolutely, especially of course in sectors that had strong export interests. Incidentally, this also led to tensions within the Republican camp: Some industrialists demanded lower tariffs so that the US would get better export opportunities in return. I follow the American Protective Tarrif League from the 1880s to around 1960, during which time its political environment changes radically: the USA begins to dismantle protectionism from 1934 onwards and quickly becomes the driving force behind international trade liberalisation after the Second World War. Even before that, there were first attempts at tariff reform. The US transformed itself from a high-tariff to a low-tariff country. I am curious to see how organisations like the American Protective Tarrif League have dealt with this change. These are, after all, organisations that have boasted of dominating the public debate and even putting presidents in office. They saw themselves at the levers of power. A few decades later, they are in total opposition. I want to look at whether and how the framing of the argument changed as a result. How much of the arguments still remain? How does the ideology change? What personnel continuities are there, which industries remain or become active? Do workers and trade unions join in at some point? I am also interested in the means of agitation. I would like to examine how attempts were made to popularise a rather technical and abstract topic like customs policy in such a way that it appeals to wider circles. This naturally leads to the question of why this worked better at some times and almost not at all at others.

Have you been able to collect enough material yet, or do you have to return to the archives again later?

Of course I would like to go on another archive tour. But I have already collected a lot of material - probably more than I can even read in detail. I'm currently working on my dissertation proposal: When I get to the detailed planning, it could be that I realise: There are still some gaps here or there that I need to fill in a second round of research. But before I set off on a second trip, it's the turn of the other project members.


Contact:
Fritz Kusch
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Faculty of Social Science
Universitäts-Boulevard, GW2
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58581
E-Mail: kusch@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Gregor Wiedemann
Dr. Gregor Wiedemann
Gregor Wiedemann recently gave a workshop at CRC 1342 on AI-based analysis of large text volumes. In this interview, the expert in computational social sciences explains the opportunities this approach creates for social sciences.

Dear Gregor Wiedemann, what applications of Natural Language Processing, i.e., automated text and language processing based on artificial intelligence, do you currently see in science and especially in the social sciences?

One focus of Natural Language Processing applications in the social sciences is the assessment of very large amounts of text for automated content analysis. This makes, for example, debates in social media or across many news media accessible for research that otherwise would be impossible to handle manually.

What are you using NLP for at the moment, personally?

I'm currently working on NLP methods for evaluating argument structures in Twitter debates. Among other things, we are observing how public discourse on the use of nuclear energy has changed in recent years. For example, environmental aspects play a role in pro-nuclear arguments much more often, which is a significant change from previous decades. In a second project, we extract protest events such as demonstrations, rallies or strikes from local media and prepare these data for protest event research.

Let's assume I have collected tens of thousands of text documents in my project that I want to analyze. How can Natural Language Processing help me with this?

Let's stay with the example of protest event research. Here, for example, a local newspaper reports on a Pegida rally in Dresden. To find this coverage automatically, we use a classification method that automatically detects whether articles containing the word "Pegida protests" are reporting on a protest event or whether the word is only used in a more general context. This allows us to reliably identify only those articles that actually report on protest events from the large set of all newspaper reports that contain these keywords. In a second step, we automatically extract information such as motto, number of participants and organizers from these articles. The end result is a structured dataset of all local protest events from four local newspapers over the last 20 years, which can then be analyzed by political scientists.

What requirements must my text data meet so that I can analyze it using Natural Language Processing?

Ideally, the training data for a model should come from the same population as the target data. The texts must also be available in digital form, of course, and they should not deviate too much from the standard language. That means, for example, transcripts of spoken language that depict strong slang, or historical documents that use a very old language, can sometimes cause problems. But there are solutions for this. In these cases, the language models used must be adapted for the target domain. By the way, it is now easily possible to use multi-lingual corpora (e.g. German and English) in the same analysis, or to make good predictions for German target data with English training data.

And what prerequisites do I as scientist have to bring along to work with NLP? How much programming knowledge do I need or other relevant prior knowledge?

For some years now, NLP methods are mainly used on the basis of multi-layer neural networks (also known as "deep learning"), because they perform significantly better than earlier approaches, which were based on word lists, for example. In order to use these neural networks for large amounts of text, it is necessary to deal with certain program libraries, which are usually written for the script language Python. Nowadays, there are also first so-called R-wrappers, which make the functionalities of the Python libraries available in the R programming language. However, there is currently no way around programming your own analysis scripts.

Before I can analyze my text data, I have to tell the algorithm what to look for and what to do with what it finds. How do you do that?

In order to teach a machine which texts to extract as relevant from a large set, which categories to sort a text into, or what information to extract from a document, I need to teach it what that information looks like using examples. To do this, a training data set is created, typically containing a few hundred or thousand positive and negative examples for the target category. With new technologies called Few Shot Learning, significantly fewer examples are already sufficient to train a pre-trained neural network on a target category.

What does my training data set have to look like so that the quality of the analysis is high and reliable afterwards?

The training data for training an NLP model should be as complete and as uniformly coded as possible. Complete means that there is a conscious category decision for all entities (words, sentences, or documents) presented to the model. Consistent (or reliable) means that if several coders create a data set, they must also reach the same judgment about category assignment in the same cases. If the machine is presented with inconsistent training data, it will not be able to learn a category adequately.

How can I tell that the NLP is working reliably?

To tell if an NLP model works reliably, it is tested with test data. Test data, just like training data, are hand-coded texts. The predictions of a trained model on the test data are then compared with the hand-coded categories. In this way, a statement about the quality of the automatic prediction is possible.

The technology in this area is rapidly progressing. What developments have advanced NLP in particular recently?

We are currently experiencing rapid progress in the field of artificial intelligence and machine text understanding with so-called large language models. The most recent example is ChatGPT from the company OpenAI. This language model is able to understand requests and responses from users and thus generate human-like dialogic communication.

What are the limitations of NLP from your point of view?

Although language models currently already perform impressively by presenting the knowledge stored in them to users in dialogic form, their internal structure lacks symbolic-logical knowledge representation that is transparently comprehensible from the outside. The goal of current research is to make this "black box" decodable within neural networks and thus also to make sure that more formally correct and better validated knowledge can be stored in these models.

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About Dr. Gregor Wiedemann

Dr. Gregor Wiedemann is Senior Researcher Computational Social Science at the Leibniz Institute for Media Research │ Hans Bredow Institute (HBI), where he directs the Media Research Methods Lab (MRML) together with Sascha Hölig. His current work focuses on the development of methods and applications of Natural Language Processing and Text Mining for empirical social and media research.

Wiedemann studied political science and computer science in Leipzig and Miami. In 2016, he completed his doctorate in computer science at the University of Leipzig in the Automatic Language Processing department on the possibilities of automating discourse and content analysis using text mining and machine learning methods. He then worked as a postdoc in the Department of Language Technology at the University of Hamburg.

He was working on methods for unsupervised information extraction to support investigative research in unknown document repositories (see newsleak.io) and the detection of hate speech and counter-speech in social media.

Until taking over the leadership of the MRML, he was working in the DFG project "A framework for argument mining and evaluation (FAME)", which deals with the automatic detection and evaluation of recurrent argument structures in empirical texts.

(Source of short biography: Hans Bredow Institute)

Prof. Dr. Ali Akbar Tajmazinani
Prof. Dr. Ali Akbar Tajmazinani
CRC guest researcher Ali Akbar Tajmazinani has presented the first results of his typology of welfare systems in Muslim societies.

In the Jour Fixe lecture series, Ali Akbar Tajmazinani from the Allameh Tabataba'i University in Tehran presented the preliminary results of his current research focus: a typology of welfare systems in Muslim societies.

For this purpose, Tajmazinani collected data on states with a majority Muslim population: Data on socio-political input and output factors (including public expenditure on health, social protection and education; level of education; extent of universal health coverage; Human Development Index; distribution of wealth), GDP per capita, share of natural resources and remittances in GDP.

A cluster analysis revealed 7 groups of countries that differed in terms of welfare state inputs and outputs as well as social framework conditions. The most relevant factors for a high level of social welfare turned out to be the level of GDP per capita and social stability. Tajmazinani will further refine his typology.

Tajmazinani is an associate professor at the Allameh Tabataba'i University in Tehran and studies social policy in Muslim societies. He is spending a one-year sabbatical in Germany and cooperates with the SOCIUM and the CRC 1342, among others.

Martín who was a member of the CRC 1342 in the first funding period has investigated what influence the colonial legacy has had on the social policy developments in Mexico and Argentina.

Martín Cortina Escudero has successfully defended his PhD thesis on Wednesday, November 23rd, 2023. Martín was member of the CRC 1342 in the 1st funding period, working in the project International Complementarities in the Development of the Welfare State. The Transatlantic Sphere (1870–2020), directed by Philip Manow and Sarah Berens.

For his PhD monograph "“Diverging Paths of Social Policy Development in Latin America States: A Case Study on Argentina and Mexico from the Colonial Times to the Early Post-World-War-II Period", Martín has investigated the international factors contributing to the two countries’ diverging paths in social policy in the period from colonialism until the 1960s.

Martín started out with his research question "Why did similar paths lead to different social policy outcomes in Argentina and Mexico?" In his literature review he could not find decent explanations for the variations among the social policy developments in Latin American countries. Therefore Martín chose the examples of Argentina and Mexico to test his hypothesis that colonial legacies were a key factor. He examined historical documents, parliamentary debates and secondary resources to test his hypothesis, applying a mixed-methods approach, combining process tracing, Qualitative Comparative Analysis and descriptive statistics.

Martín found that Mexico and Argentina went through similar historical stages – the transition to modern capitalism (1810-1910), the adoption of a primary export model (1910-1940) and an industrialization process focussing on import substitution import (1940-1960). These stages to some degree led to some convergence in countries’ social policy developments.

The colonial legacies of both countries on the other hand prepared the ground for the differences in their social policy arrangements: Mexico with its abundance in precious metals and its large indigenous population was very much in the focus of the Spanish Empire, which therefore implemented strong colonial structures in Mexico. In Argentina the opposite had happened, because it was resource scarce and not densely populated – as a result the Spanish Empire did not spend as much money and effort on implementing hierarchic colonial structures. These disparities paved the way for Argentina to eventually develop a political regime of electoral competition in the first half of the 20th century, whereas Mexico developed an authoritarian regime.

These differences in regime types, amplified by the differences in the working classes’/unions’ influence on political decision-making processes, has shaped the social policy decisions of both, Mexico and Argentina, Martín has found. Argentina’s social policy was rather extensive and stratified up, whereas Mexico’s social policy was rather limited and unified, privileging civil servants.

After his presentation Martín received valuable feedback and criticism on his work from the committee that he will be taking into account before submitting to an academic publisher.

Dr. Jan Helmdag
Dr. Jan Helmdag
Jan Helmdag from the Swedish Institute for Social Research is visiting the CRC 1342. During a lecture on statistical analyses of labour market reforms, he pointed out some pitfalls.

Dr. Jan Helmdag from the Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI) in Stockholm is currently visiting the CRC 1342. At SOFI, Jan Helmdag is working, among other things, on the Social Policy Indicators Database (SPIN), which contains institutional data on various dimensions of social welfare programmes. During his visit to Bremen, Helmdag gave a lecture as part of the Jour-fixe lecture series and contributed to a workshop of the CRC working group on cash benefits.

At his Jour-fixe lecture, Helmdag presented the results of his doctoral thesis, which he wrote at the University of Greifswald, in front of members of CRC 1342, SCOCIUM and BIGSSS. For his work, Helmdag had analysed 255 quantitative studies on labour market reforms worldwide between 1963 and 2021. He focused on the ideological position of governments on the one hand and on the impact of labour market reforms on the generosity of labour market policy (measured by expenditure on labour market policy instruments and wage replacement rates) on the other.

While the statistical analysis of all 255 studies together - Helmdag speaks here of a "one-size-fits-all" analysis - produced a relatively uniform picture ("There is robust evidence for classical partisanship", i.e. left-wing governments tended to increase spending and wage replacement rates, while right-wing governments tended to cut both), the country-specific analysis produced a fragmented picture:

In terms of spending levels, active labour market policy reforms are predominantly characterised by "new politics", passive labour market policy reforms are characterised by all three faces of partisanship: classical partisanship, reversed partisanship and new politics. Economic factors such as economic growth and unemployment rates had a major influence on the level of expenditure, but political institutions had not. All "faces of partisanship" were also evident in the level of wage replacement rates, whereby government constellations and "veto players" played a greater role than economic factors.

Helmdag concludes from his research that explanatory models based on one-size-fits-all analyses can be very misleading, especially when they refer to a long period of time. Country-specific analyses, on the other hand, offer valuable insights to improve the models.

You can find out more about Jan Helmdag and his work on his profile at Researchgate and on his profile at SOFI.

Dr. Ali Akbar Tajmazinani
Dr. Ali Akbar Tajmazinani
Tajmazinani is Associate Professor at Allameh Tabataba'i University in Tehran and is researching social policy in Muslim societies. He is currently spending a sabbatical in Germany and cooperates with the SOCIUM and CRC 1342.

Ali Akbar Tajmazinani is an expert on social policy in Muslim societies. "About two billion people are of the Muslim faith and constitute the majority of the population in about 40 countries around the world. Yet these countries are virtually absent from the comparative social policy literature," says Tajmazinani. He is working to fill this gap. In 2021, he edited the edited volume Social Policy in the Islamic World, published with Palgrave Macmillan. In this book, Tajmazinani analyses the Koran and other fundamental texts with regard to their impact on social policy in predominantly Muslim states. The volume also includes case studies on eight countries.

Ali Akbar Tajmazinani has spent the last two months at the German Institute of Development and Sustainability (IDOS) working on food subsidies and the recently introduced cash transfer scheme in Iran. Tajmazinani is now on a visiting fellowship with SOCIUM and CRC 1342 in Bremen until the end of the year.

Tajmazinani will mainly work on a typology of welfare systems of Islamic societies. He will write a paper on this topic for the SOCIUM SFB 1342 Working Paper Series and give a public lecture on 7 December.

The cooperation with the CRC 1342 is to be continued beyond 2022.

The volume is a central result of project B01 in the first funding phase and has now been reviewed by both the sociologist Ulf Tranow and the historian Johannes Nagel.

In his book "Kausale Mechanismen und Process Tracing - Perspektiven der qualitativen Politikforschung" (Causal Mechanisms and Process Tracing - Perspectives on Qualitative Political Research), Frank Nullmeier shows how political research can be systematically approached by means of process tracing and how political processes can be better understood and explained in detail by means of causal mechanisms. Nullmeier first examines the history and theoretical foundations of the concept of causal mechanisms and, building on this, presents a refinement to a theory of causal mechanisms. Furthermore, he explains how mechanisms already identified in the social science literature can be used to explain political developments. Finally, the book offers a guideline on how to proceed with process tracing, which researchers and students can use to analyse independent political processes.

Ulf Tranow, sociologist and Akademischer Oberrat at the Institute for Social Sciences at Heinrich Heine University Düsseldorf, has read Nullmeier's book and written a detailed review for Soziopolis. Tranow summarises the chapters concisely, contextualises them within the literature and praises Nullmeier's integration of theory and empiricism: "It is worth reading both for those who want to familiarise themselves with the theoretical foundations of the mechanism concept and for those who are looking for a more application-oriented approach to mechanism-based individual case research."

Tranow has only one critical remark about Nullmeier's book: "... hardly any complex mechanisms are presented and discussed in the book", although these are necessary for explaining individual events in the social sciences. According to Tranow, Nullmeier is sceptical that a comprehensive compilation of complex mechanisms is possible on the basis of the current state of research. However, Tranow disagrees: "[N]ot only empirical research, but above all social theory lends itself to using it to compile complex mechanisms for a practical research toolbox ... The reappraisal of social theories by transferring their underlying causal models into the systematics and terminology of the mechanisms approach could be a big step towards making this explanatory programme attractive for empirical research."

Ulf Tranow: "To explain why by explaining how". Rezension zu "Kausale Mechanismen und Process Tracing. Perspektiven der qualitativen Politikforschung" von Frank Nullmeier. In: Soziopolis – Gesellschaft beobachten. 10.10.2022, https://www.soziopolis.de/to-explain-why-by-explaining-how.html

Johannes Nagel from the Department Global- und Verflechtungsgeschichte at Bielefeld University has read "Kausale Mechanismen und Process Tracing" from a historian's perspective and reviewed it for H-Soz-Kult. Nagel recommends reading the book to historians "... who are open to theory-based explanation and do not limit themselves to loosely commenting on source material with borrowed social science terminology, but want to proceed in a methodologically consistent manner". He praises the section on the history of theory as a "... concise overview of debates in bordering disciplines that one would otherwise have to read up on via various literature". Nullmeier's systematisation of causal mechanisms is very valuable for empirical historical research, Nagel notes, as it is helpful for applying theory and operationalising one's own projects: "The methodological explanations encourage one to think about how working on the material and explaining in individual case analysis are connected."

Johannes Nagel: Rezension zu: Nullmeier, Frank: Kausale Mechanismen und Process Tracing. Perspektiven der qualitativen Politikforschung. Frankfurt am Main 2021: ISBN 9783593512075, , In: H-Soz-Kult, 10.10.2022, https://www.hsozkult.de/publicationreview/id/reb-128189


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