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Prof. Armando Barrientos giving his keynote speech.
Prof. Armando Barrientos giving his keynote speech.
170 scholars from 35 nations met at the first conference of the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" at the University of Bremen.

Worldwide there is an unimaginably large variety of social policy programmes with different scopes, levels of generousity and sources of financing. And this socio-political cosmos is constantly on the move. In their 85 presentations and three keynote speeches at the CRC 1342 conference, the participants addressed the question of how the interplay of domestic and international influences determines social policy worldwide. Leading international researchers presented their hypotheses and findings, including Prof. Armando Barrientos of the University of Manchester, Prof. Nicola Yeates of the Open University and Prof. Mitchell Orenstein of the University of Pennsylvania.

Barrientos showed in his speech that in low and middle income countries, spending on social assistance has increased significantly for some time now. According to Barrientos, classical theories of the welfare state do not provide a conclusive explanation for this development.
Yeates emphasised in her keynote that the scientific analysis of social policy should keep a close eye on its history, while Orenstein outlined his plan to develop a Social Impact of Transition Index to measure and compare the social consequences of the transition from a centrally planned to a market economy in the post-Soviet region.

This conference was a first milestone for the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", whose central aim is to develop the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS): an interactive global social policy atlas with which the development of social policy can be analysed and visualised - from 1880 to the present day and at any scale. In a few years, the Global Social Policy Atlas WeSIS will be made available free of charge not only to academics but also to the general public.

The conference was characterised by an extremely cooperative working atmosphere in which the speakers received constructive feedback on their papers and presentations. On the evening of the first day of the conference, the participants were also received in the Bremeische Bürgerschaft by Prof. Dr. Eva Quante-Brandt, Senator of Science of the Free Hanseatic City of Bremen.

Further information
Download the detailed conference programme.


Contact:
Philipp Jarke
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58573
E-Mail: pjarke@uni-bremen.de

Alex Nadège Ouedraogo, doctoral researcher in project B09, spent four weeks in Senegal. In two different regions, Dakar and Casamance, she explored the topic of her thesis: social policy related to food security.

Nadège, you have recently returned from a research trip. Where have you been?

I was at Dakar and I visited Ziguinchor, a city in the south of Senegal, that has seen conflicts for several years but now everything seems to be calm.

What was the purpose of your trip?

During the first week, I took part in a summer school in Dakar that was organised by the Council for the Development of Social Science Research in Africa (CODESRIA) and the Centre for African Studies Basel (CASB). The theme was: "African Studies and Africanists: Whence the Gaze?". As my parents are from Burkina Faso, I've been interested in working with Africans scholars and in Africa. It was interesting to be surrounded by other PhD students from the African continent. I learned a lot about doing a PhD and doing research in Africa. Well, and after that I stayed another week in Dakar collecting information to locate archives and networking. Then I travelled to the South during the third week to explore and learn about the region and came back to Dakar for the final week. These last three weeks of my trip were directly related to my PhD and the research within our B09 project while the first week was more about being a researcher in an African context.

What is you research about?

In our project B09 we are working on social policy in Africa, and in my case it's about social policy related to food security. My recent trip to Senegal helped me a lot to find a more particular and original angle from which to conduct my research.

How did this happen?

I did not make any appointments for any interviews before I started my research trip. I wanted to have first impressions of what's going on at the local level. I did not want to run into the government or NGOs straight away but rather meet and talk with the local population. That is what I did.

Could you already gather information or data that you can use for your research?

Not actually data. But I now know in which direction I want to conduct my research. Speaking with many local people and sitting with them on the market helped me a lot. I also visited some households that I got introduced to. I discussed with these people what they think about social policy and what it means to them. I soon realised that most of them do not even use those terms. It doesn't make sense for them. Most of them use the term public policy. This preliminary research trip helped me to adopt a certain position and a certain vocabulary. I also realised that for the locals food security depends on access to food. Access not so much in financial terms but rather in terms of transportation and local availability. Most people told me that they would like to buy certain kind of food but cannot find it. Or that it is produced for export exclusively. It was interesting to discover that food security is closely related to transport infrastructure and spatial planning.

Which language did you speak with the local people?

I spoke French. But most people in Senegal speak Wolof which I don't speak. That made it a bit harder to make sure people understand me and vice versa. But most of the time I had someone local who helped interpreting when people did not speak much French. But I will do my best to learn basics of Wolof soon.

What are your next steps?

Now I have to write my thesis proposal. Thanks to this preliminary field trip and the readings, I had done before I should be fine. Now I have ideas of how I want to conduct my research and it's more grounded because I've been in the country.

Have you planned next trips already?

If my thesis proposal is approved, I hope I will be able to go back to Senegal for a longer period of time. Time is really a constraint. I cannot leave all my activities here in Bremen but it's really important for my ethnographic research approach to be in the country and to stay as long as possible.


Contact:
Alex Nadège Ouedraogo
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 176 73 96 96 90
E-Mail: ouedraogo@uni-bremen.de

The project B05 team in Dalian
The project B05 team in Dalian
The project B05 team was invited by the Chinese Association of Social Security to the 14th International Forum on Social Security "Social Security and State Governance".

In mid-September, the project B05 team was invited by the CAOSS (Chinese Association of Social Security) to the 14th International Forum on Social Security "Social Security and State Governance", the biggest conference in East Asia on social security and social policy. The conference was organized by ILO (International Labor Organization), FES (Friedrich Ebert Stiftung), KASP East Asia Research Committee, JASP's Section on Japan-East Asia Social Policy and CAOSS.

Tobias ten Brink presented the agenda of the CRC project as one of the keynote speeches, addressing the research of the CRC 1342 and the interest in China of project B05. The CRC project received great interest from both Chinese scholars and the international audience. Tao Liu from the Institute of East Asian Studies at the University of Duisburg-Essen participated in the round table discussions on the future of social protection as one of the speakers. During the two-day conference, the B05 team had a meeting with the president of CAOSS, Prof. Zheng Gongcheng at Renmin University, on future co-work and research cooperation. Team member Dr. Armin Müller, research fellow Tong Tian and Yuxin Li of Duisburg-Essen University also attended. The conference in Dalian tightened CRC 1342’s relations with researchers from East Asia.


Contact:
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

Clara Fontdevila
Clara Fontdevila
Clara Fontdevila from the Autonomous University of Barcelona is currently staying at CRC 1342 as a guest researcher. In her PhD thesis she is investigating how UN’s global education agenda has been shaped.

Clara, you are sociologist and currently working on your PhD. What is your thesis about?

My thesis is about the post-2015 global education agenda integrated within the UN Sustainable Development Goals. This agenda is also known as Education 2030 and is regarded as a landmark in the history of global targeting in education. I try to understand the community of practice that is linked to development of targets and the indicators. I address this from a political-sociology perspective. I am looking at who was and is involved in the process? What was the varying influence of these collective and individual actors? Which networks emerged? And which are the key mechanisms of consensus-building, or to what extend is there a conflict of interests?

Which actors are you looking at especially?
I am looking at collective actors like International Organisations, NGOs and national bureaucracies. But I am also interested in the role of individual actors within these collective actors. In order to understand possible brokers or policy entrepreneurs and where they are located within these networks.

At what stage of your PhD are you?

I am in my third year now.

Have you collected most of your data by now?

Not yet. The data collection has proved the most challenging aspect. I am conduction semi-structured interviews, and making appointments with the actors is very time-consuming. And I have also tried to conduct ethnographic-oriented observations of key meetings, in order to understand what is going on, what are the conventions and patterns of communication, and which are their effects in terms of distribution of power.

And when do you plan to finish?

I would like to finish by the end of next year. The whole process took longer than I expected. And I am not working full-time on my PhD thesis, I am involved in other research projects as well and I also do some teaching.

What brought you to Bremen?

I read a lot of Kerstin Martens’ work and of Dennis Niemann. I have been following their work for a long time. Also, the recently approved collaborative research centre got approved Bremen seemed to be a really interesting place to go to.

Are you involved in Kerstin’s CRC project?

No, I enjoy the exchange with Kerstin and her colleagues, but I am not involved in any of her work. I am purely a guest researcher here and I try to make the most of the chance to focus on my thesis.

 

Clara Fontdevila's profile on academia.edu.

Meeting at the Jacobs University Bremen
Meeting at the Jacobs University Bremen
Four scientists from the Centre for International Social Security Studies met with CRC 1342 members to exchange their views on pension reforms in China and Germany.

At the beginning of July a delegation from the Centre for International Social Security Studies (CISS) at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) came to visit the China Global Center at Jacobs University Bremen, and was warmly welcomed by the Dean of Jacobs University Bremen, Prof. Arvid Kappas. It was the first time Director Prof. Bingwen Zheng, General Secretary Prof. Lianquan Fang, associate Professor Chuanjun Qi and associate Professor Peng Guo visited Bremen.

During the meeting, Professor Tobias ten Brink delivered a presentation about the CRC 1342 project B05 "Dynamics of Chinese social policy. Interplay of national and international influences", which he and Professor Tao Liu at Duisburg-Essen University are directing. Tao Liu afterwards explained to the guests Germany’s Riester pension reform in detail. Peng Guo presented an update on the dynamics and reforms of Chinese old-age insurance. Dr. Armin Müller, Dr. Fei Wang, research fellow Tong Tian and Yuxin Li of Duisburg-Essen University also attended the meeting.


Contact:
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

Sigrid Lupieri
Sigrid Lupieri
Lupieri is a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge and will stay in Bremen for three months, collaborating with project A04.

Thanks to the generous support of an Alexander von Humboldt Foundation grant, we are delighted to be hosting Sigrid Lupieri at the CRC and SOCIUM as a guest researcher for the period of 01 September to 30 November 2018. As a PhD candidate at the University of Cambridge, her research analyses the factors influencing the allocation of health care resources to older Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Ms. Lupieri's previous experience includes working at UNESCO and UNDP in New Delhi and New York, as well as several years as a journalist in Armenia, Georgia, Germany and the U.S. She holds master’s degrees in journalism (Northwestern University) and modern European history (University of Cambridge), and a BA in foreign languages and literatures from the University of Udine, Italy. During her stay at our center, Ms. Lupieri will be working in close collaboration with the A04 project.


Contact:
Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58561
E-Mail: frisina@uni-bremen.de

Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
Dr. Johanna Kuhlmann
In an interview Johanna Kuhlmann, who moved from TU Braunschweig to the CRC 1342, explains why social policy combines the small things with the big picture and why it appeals to her to discover something new in the familiar.

You're a political scientist. When did you know this was the right job for you?

At least not when I started studying. I studied political science and German language and literature and at the beginning I had no concrete idea of what I wanted to become. Journalism was an idea, but that was very vague. I then did several internships related to political science and German literature.

What exactly?

I have worked in a ministry and with a member of the Bundestag, but also in a literature research institute. I knew I wanted to work in political science when I had my first job as a student assistant at university.

That was still in Münster, right?

Yes, I really liked that, because my professor at the time directly involved the student assistants in his research. I was involved in many discussions and could participate in research. I quickly got a comprehensive insight. So I thought: This mitght be it.

What are you interested in social policy?

When I started studying social policy, I was particularly interested in strategic aspects, specifically: Why do political actors cut social benefits that are essential for many people voting fir them? That was a few years after the Agenda 2010 reforms. My dissertation then focused more on the content dimension of social policy, i.e. how exactly does the provision of social policy services actually change? And how can this be explained - beyond strategic aspects? Even if social policy is incredibly small-scale and one can deal for a long time with paragraphs of individual social laws: Changes in social policy always make statements about the basic principles of social coexistence and about the question of what role the state is prepared to take in providing welfare for citizens.

Why did you swap your post-doc position in Braunschweig for your new position in the CRC?

Because I was very interested in the conceptual design of the CRC as a whole and the project in which I am now working. The project aims to bundle the results of the other case study centred projects and to explain the causal mechanisms that lead to the dissemination of social policy. In this way, an independent theoretical contribution is to be made. That's what attracted me. I am not a pure theorist and have also worked empirically during my doctoral thesis. But I do have a "weakness" for theoretical questions. I have also focused on European welfare states so far. One starting point of the CRC is: We know a great deal about OECD welfare systems, but far less about other welfare systems. That's a lot like me.

And you didn't find that discouraging, but appealing?

Absolutely. That's what scientific work is all about, namely uncovering blind spots. I am familiar with the fundamental debates and theoretical points of reference of the CRC, which will initially be the focus of my work in the project. But the social policies of many non-OECD countries, especially in detail, are new territory for me. Because in our project, which has no empirical element of its own, we will look a lot into the other projects, I expect a lot from it.


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

Dr. Dennis Niemann
Dr. Dennis Niemann
As a young boy Dennis Niemann wanted to become a paleontologist. Today, as a political scientist, he prefers to look for social mechanisms and patterns rather than petrified bones.

What was your first career aspiration as a child or teenager?

Probably the mandatory astronaut, firefighter, or policeman. A profession in which you "really do something". I fully embraced the role models of that time. When I grew up in the 1980s, there was also a great dinosaur phase. So my plan was to dig up dinosaurs later.

And why aren't you doing it today?

Because it's probably quite boring to dig in the ground and find such a petrified bone every couple of years. My first realistic career aspiration at the beginning of my studies was becoming a journalist. Like so many in social sciences. I thought that woould suit me because I've always liked to write. But I had neither connections nor special talent in the field of journalism.

Why did you start studying social sciences?

This was actually recommended to me during my school years at a student advisory service. I then studied politics and law. And right at the beginning of my studies it turned out that this was a good choice, also as a professional field.

In which sense?

This was primarily due to my work as a student assistant. In the third semester, the professor asked me if I wanted to work as an assistant. I was somewhat flattered. However, I really enjoyed my work.

You had to do more than just make photocopies.

Unlike some of my fellow students, I wasn't used as a copy slave. I was lucky enough to work for Michael Zürn, who does research in international relations. Zürn had a project on international environmental policy at the time.

When was that?

That was in 2003/2004, when there was a huge database on environmental regimes and I had the task of evaluating it. That was completely new and very interesting for me as a student, because it resulted in things that nobody knew.

Do you have an example?

That it makes more sense, for example, to use quasi-legal arbitration bodies to assess compliance with the rules rather than immediately threatening to impose any sanctions. And that's when I got infected with this virus that is driving us to create knowledge.

Your thesis was based on your work as an assistant.

Exactly, the topic was "Compliance in international environmental regimes". Since I had the position as a student assistant, I have worked continuously to get a foot in the door. And that went relatively smoothly thanks to the Collaborative Research Centre "Staatlichkeit im Wandel". So I started in the middle of the second project phase. At that time I was also an assistant to the co-project manager Ansgar Weymann. One of his colleagues found out that I wanted to do a PhD and said: "Come by, we talk about it." I think I said something like: "I would like to do research on international organisations, I don't care about the policy field". And that is how I turned to education. And that's really exciting.

Imagine you have everything you need: sufficient financial resources, good colleagues, the necessary knowledge, the best technical equipment and also enough time - which research question would you try to solve?

Phew! This is a question you don't deal with in normal life at all! Because that is completely unrealistic! However, with a colleague I had once applied for funding for a project about school autonomy in a European comparison. That's a really exciting topic.

Can you explain briefly what you mean by that?

School autonomy means that schools are less strongly regulated by the state, but can develop their own profile and teach and train people within the broadest possible framework. I would like to investigate this in a European comparison. If we had unlimited resources available for this, I would trace these development paths for each European country and subsequently have a data collection with all possible explanatory factors as to why states have opted for or against more school autonomy. To recognize what were the decisive explanatory factors for the development. That is something I am particularly interested in in general: Why did it come to something? To discover what is not obvious, but rather contradicts expectations.

Basically, the CRC 1342 is also designed in this way: You look at the past development of social policy and search for patterns.

That's is why I like the CRC research programme so much. Sometimes you have to look backwards and retrace what has happened. This enables you to identify mechanisms and patterns.

You're a postdoc now. What's your plan for the next ten, twenty years?

In the first funding phase, my goal is to seriously tackle the habilitation. And then of course I would also like to apply for professorships.

Do you already have a topic in mind for your habilitation?

Roughly, yes. It is based on our CRC education project. We look at the ideas that international organisations have on the subject of education. We also examine organisations that previously had nothing to do with education, e.g. the World Bank or the OECD, which previously had a clear economic focus. I am interested to know why the OECD, for example, is now regarding education as extremely important. What was the incentive to get so involved in this field? When you hear OECD, you immediately think of the PISA survey. And there are other international organisations that also are very much in favour of social policy. What makes organizations expand suddenly? And how do organisations that have been working on that field before, react and adapt to the new competition? Are they being ousted, are they looking for other niches? This project will be driven forward in the next six months.


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

Dr. Camilla Addey
Dr. Camilla Addey
Camilla Addey from Columbia University raises this question in her research project "ILSA Inc.", which she recently presented at CRC 1342.

The results of international large-scale assessments (ILSA) such as PISA, IGLU or TIMMS have a significant influence on the education policies of the participating countries. According to the OECD, for example, a large majority of participating countries have indicated that PISA has influenced the design of curricula and that their policy-making is influenced by the strategies of high-performing countries.

"The data from these International Large Scale Assessments are generally considered accurate and reliable," said Camilla Addey, lecturer at Columbia University, New York. During a presentation of her research project "ILSA Inc." to members of the SFB 1342 at the University of Bremen last week, Addey said that most steps of ILSAs (including development, implementation and evaluation) had been outsourced to private companies. "We do not know what impact this significant involvement of the private sector has on large-scale assessments and ultimately on education policy," said Adey. "So far there has been no empirical research on this topic."

Addey wants to close this gap with her project. Addey collects qualitative and quantitative data through network ethnography, a mixture of network analysis, qualitative interviews, observations and much more. Addey's goal is to map the network of global ILSA actors and make the nature of their relationships transparent.

Addey is still in the early stages of data collection. However, she said that the network of companies and individuals involved in international large-scale assessments was relatively small and closed. During the presentation Addey did not want to reveal details from the first interviews she had conducted with employees of relevant international organisations. It would be too early for that. However, those interested could contact her directly.

Camilla Addey at a glance:
Camilla Addey is lecturer at Teachers College at Columbia University in New York. She is also co-directing the Laboratory of International Assessment Studies, an interdisciplinary network for experts in international large-scale assessments.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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