News

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


Prof Zheng Gongcheng
Prof Zheng Gongcheng
Zheng Gongcheng, professor at Renmin University and chairman of the Chinese Society for Social Security Research, presented his view on the transformation of China's social policy at SFB 1342.

Zheng Gongcheng, Professor at the School of Labour and Human Resources at Renmin University and Chairman of the Chinese Society for Social Security Research, visited CRC 1342 and gave an overview of the development of Chinese social policy, especially in the last 70 years. He also discussed the current challenges the Chinese Communist Party faces in reforming the social system.

Zheng pointed out that China has a long tradition of social security. There had already been disaster and bereavement aid more than 2000 years ago. The Han dynasty even operated a long-term care system for older people.

China's modern social policy, however, only began some 70 years ago. In 1949 there were eight million refugees due to natural disasters, for whom an emergency aid system was set up. At the same time, the unemployment rate in the cities was 50 percent. In 1951, unemployment insurance was introduced in China's cities, but not in the countryside, to prevent those affected from becoming impoverished. This distinction remained characteristic of China's social policy: health insurance and orphanage assistance, which were introduced in the 1950s, also remained limited to the cities. Moreover, social benefits were not borne by the central state, but by the companies the people worked for.

With the transition from the state-planned economy to the Chinese variant of capitalism, China's social policy also changed fundamentally. Social benefits are now at least partially financed by contributions, and the rural population is also included in the systems. According to Zheng, there are currently 1.4 billion Chinese registered in the social security systems. 1.35 billion people are covered by health insurance, 277 million currently receive pensions and around 5 percent of the total population receives social assistance.

"However, the system is still far from mature," said Zheng. "The goal of equality and justice has not yet been achieved". The financial basis of the social systems must be broadened and the pools from which the benefits are paid must be enlarged. At present, for example, health insurance is not yet pooled at national level, but at district level.

For pension insurance, nationwide financing is planned for 2021. The pension system, however, has the greatest need for reform in the areas of retirement age and minimum contribution period. Currently, Chinese women can receive their pension at the age of 50 and men at the age of 60 provided they have paid contributions for 15 years. It is obvious that the pension system cannot be financed sustainably with these figures.

But the necessary reforms are unpopular: in an online survey, 97 percent of employees in the public sector rejected a reform of the pension system. The Communist Party has already worked out the roadmap with the necessary reform steps and is unlikely to deviate from it. But, according to Zheng Gongcheng, the party has realized that it has to put in a lot of effort to convince the population of the necessary changes.

Looking to the future, Zheng also advocated the introduction of a private pension scheme to supplement the state pension. He also assessed the introduction of private primary schools as positive. Accident and unemployment insurance must be expanded. The biggest task, however, would be the introduction of long-term care insurance. China's population is ageing rapidly, and 60 percent of families have only one child. In many cases, it will not be possible in the future to care for elderly people in need of care in the families. China is therefore closely monitoring the long-term care systems in Germany and Japan in particular.

Zheng Gongcheng had come to Bremen with a number of colleagues from various social science research institutions. Following Zheng's lecture, the Chinese delegation met with the members of project B05 to discuss the pension, social assistance and health insurance reform in China in detail. SFB member Liu Tao also explained current developments in the German social security system to the Chinese guests.


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

The US sociologist will work in Bremen until mid-November, where he will give lectures and offer workshops.

John W. Meyer is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Stanford University. He made important contributions to sociological neoinstitutionalism and developed the concept of "world polity". In this concept, the world society is understood as a system of globally shared values and norms of western character. Organizations adopt and disseminate these values because they perceive them as promoting legitimacy.

John W. Meyer will give a public lecture at the Haus der Wissenschaft Bremen on 17 October 2019 at 6 p.m.: "The University in World Society: Liberalism, Neoliberalism, and Now Anti-Liberalism". 

On 30 October 2019 he will give a workshop on "New Institutionalism in a Globalized World" at Socium/CRC 1342. Up to six doctoral students can discuss their research projects with Meyer.


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

Römer received the John F. Kennedy Memorial Fellowship and will continue her research in Cambridge, Massachusetts, until the end of August 2020.

Friederike Römer is member of the CRC project B04, which investigates the social protection of international labour migration. In Harvard, where she is based at the Center for European Studies, she will continue her research on the development of welfare rights for immigrants in the EU, ASEAN and Mercosur.


Contact:
Dr. Friederike Römer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67469
E-Mail: friederike.roemer@uni-bremen.de

The Socium and the CRC 1342 have launched a working paper series. The first papers have now been published.

The series is opened by Armando Barrientos, Professor Emeritus at the Global Development Institute (University of Manchester) and currently Mercator Fellow in the project “Mechanisms of Social Policy Dynamics” (B01). Additional authors of the series are Bastian Becker (Socium), Gulnaz Isabekova (CRC 1342), and Greta-Marleen Storath (CRC 1342).

The working papers can be found here:
https://www.socialpolicydynamics.de/working-paper-series

The SOCIUM SFB 1342 WorkingPapers offer an additional and fast opportunity to publish research results including a double-blind peer-review procedure. The working paper series is open to all members of the Socium and the CRC 1342, as well as their cooperation partners.

The working paper series is coordinated by Johanna Kuhlmann.


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 Ivo Mossig (on the left)
Prof Dr Ivo Mossig (on the left)
The Association for Geography at German-speaking Universities and Research Institutions has honoured him for his module "Introductory Project" at the University of Bremen.

Research-based learning, which the University of Bremen considers very important, begins at the Institute of Geography right at the beginning of the first semester: students choose a topic and work on it scientifically. They then investigate their own questions empirically and test suitable methods. They are closely accompanied by their lecturers in small groups of up to five people. Finally, they present their posters to the university public, which illustrate the results of their scientific work. "We build on our students' previous knowledge and at the same time strengthen their motivation for the subject," says Mossig.

At the same time, the students acquire methodical tools: quoting correctly, initial laboratory analyses, conducting and evaluating surveys, interviews with experts, applying simple statistical methods or mapping their own results. "We integrate content and methods and take up this challenge right at the start of the course," says Mossig.

The "information of the week" is also part of the introductory project module. In weekly snacks of ten minutes each, students receive organisational and non-technical information on all aspects of their studies: the topics range from examination registration and international semesters to studying with a child.

Since the winter semester 2017/18, Mossig and his colleagues at the institute have been conducting the introductory project. It has proven to be a success: "It stimulates students' enthusiasm to study and their interest in their own research," says Mossig.


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

Dr. Alex Veit
Dr. Alex Veit
Our CRC member edited a special section on "The Politics of Intervention Against (Conflict-Related) Sexual and Gender Based Violence".

Alex Veit guest-edited the special section entitled "The Politics of Intervention Against (Conflict-Related) Sexual and Gender Based Violence" in the Journal of Intervention and Statebuilding (Vol. 13,4). The section is part of the research project "International Intervention against sexualised violence in conflict regions. Intended and unintended consequences", funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft. Project member Lisa Tschörner co-authored one of the articles.

Contents:

Feminism in the Humanitarian Machine. Introduction to the Special Section on "The Politics of Intervention Against (Conflict-Related) Sexual and Gender-based Violence"

by Alex Veit

Abstract: The prevention and mitigation of sexual and gender-based violence in (post-) conflict societies has become an important humanitarian activity. This introductory article examines the analytical discourses on these interventions, the institutionalization of SGBV expertise in international politics, and the emancipatory potential of anti-SGBV practices. It argues that the confluence of feminist professional activism and militarized humanitarian interventionism produced specific international activities against SGBV. As part of the institutionalization of gender themes in international politics, feminist emancipatory claims have been taken up by humanitarian organizations. The normal operating state of the humanitarian machine, however, undercuts its potential contribution to social transformation towards larger gender equality in (post-) conflict societies.

"A Real Woman Waits" – Heteronormative Respectability, Neo-Liberal Betterment and Echoes of Coloniality in SGBV Programming in Eastern DR Congo

by Charlotte Mertens and Henri Myrttinen

Drawing on archival and field research, this article critically examines the production and distribution of gender roles and expectations in SGBV programming, in particular in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We find the underlying currents in some of these programmes reinscribe heteronormativity and focus on individual betterment which resonates with regulating gender and sexuality during colonialism. In some cases, strongly western-inspired norms of individual agency have been introduced, disregarding structural constraints of people’s lives. To conclude, we explore alternative approaches to SGBV prevention, ones in which international approaches are re-defined and vernacularized for local use – but which also at times inform global understandings.

"Without Education You Can Never Become President": Teenage Pregnancy and Pseudo-empowerment in Post-Ebola Sierra Leone

by Anne Menzel

This article analyses the emergence of ‘teenage pregnancy’ as a new policy focus in post-Ebola Sierra Leone and explores how Sierra Leoneans interpret the problem of ‘teenage pregnancy’. I argue that the new policy focus is not indicative of changing or new problems. Rather, ‘teenage pregnancy’ has created opportunities for donors and the Government of Sierra Leone to continue cooperation in gender politics. At the same time, Sierra Leoneans are clearly concerned about ‘teenage pregnancy’, and many agree with sensitization campaigns that responsibilize young women and girls while downplaying structural factors that render them vulnerable to arrangements involving transactional sex.

Creative appropriation: academic knowledge and interventions against sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

by Alex Veit and Lisa Tschörner

Recent academic research has questioned assumptions about sexual violence in (post-) conflict contexts. Gender norms rather than military decision-making have been found to constitute a major underlying reason for wartime sexual violence. In this contribution, we investigate whether international organisations seeking to prevent sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo have accordingly changed their analytical perspectives and modified policies and programming. We find that many, but not all, such organisations creatively appropriate new academic work in their policy and project documents. However, incentives for continuity in the humanitarian field have slackened the pace of any substantive practical changes.


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

Immanuel Wallerstein (Screenshot of www.iwallerstein.com)
Immanuel Wallerstein (Screenshot of www.iwallerstein.com)
In his major work "The Modern World-System", the American sociologist analysed the development and effects of global capitalism. Wallerstein died at the age of 88.

The American sociologist Immanuel Wallerstein died on August 31, 2019. Wallerstein's main work, "The Modern World-System", comprises four volumes in which he analysed the development of global capitalism from the 16th century to the present day. The accumulation of political power and capital has consolidated and intensified global asymmetries, leading to the formation of centers, peripheries and semi-peripheries.

Wallerstein's work was particularly influenced by the fact that he considered nation states to be unsuitable as a unit for the analysis of society. "I sought to produce ... a detailed critique of why both national development and developmentalism as an explanatory model (modernization theory) are illusions" (Immanuel Wallerstein: The Development of an Intellectual Position). International dependencies and interactions did not stop at national borders and should therefore be included in social science analysis. This had to be "simultaneously historic and systemic, if it were to grapple seriously with the description and explanation of the real world."

Wallerstein taught and conducted research at Columbia University, McGill University, Binghamton University and Yale University, among others. He was also president of the International Sociological Association in the 1990s.

Wallerstein was active into old age, publishing commentaries on his website every 1st and 15th of a month with absolute dedication. Some time ago, he had set himself the goal of publishing 500 commentaries and then finishing the series. Two months after the 500th entry, Wallerstein died at the age of 88.

The second of the two surveys in Latin America by the Cologne CRC members took place this summer in the state of Sao Paulo in Brazil.

In the Cologne part of project B03, two surveys were carried out - one in Mexico and one in Brazil - in order to gain insights into the connection between trade and social policy at the micro level. The survey covered several dimensions: respondents had the opportunity to provide information on issues such as social policy, trade, migration, security and corruption. With the data, the Cologne team hopes to explore the link between globalisation and socio-political preferences in Brazil, but many other interesting questions can also be addressed.

Franziska Deeg in Sao Paulo.

To accompany the implementation in Brazil, Franziska Deeg, the Cologne PhD student of the B03 project team, spent almost three weeks in Sao Paulo. Together with the opinion research institute IBOPE, she was able to completely adapt the questionnaire to the Brazilian context and the Portuguese language. Furthermore, 30 pre-tests with low-income households were carried out to test the questions and interview training was implemented to reduce interviewer effects.

The team has thus reached another important milestone in the project and can now fully concentrate on evaluating the extensive data sets from the surveys in Mexico and Brazil. The data has been available to the Cologne B03 team since mid-August.


Contact:
Dr. Sarah Berens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Cologne Center for Comparative Politics
Herbert-Lewin-Str. 2
50931 Köln
Phone: +49 221 470-2853
E-Mail: sarah.berens@uni-koeln.de

Franziska Deeg
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Cologne Center for Comparative Politics
Herbert-Lewin-Str. 2
50931 Köln
Phone: +49 221 470-2853
E-Mail: fdeeg@uni-koeln.de

The New School in New York City.
The New School in New York City.
Heiner Fechner, Jean-Yves Gerlitz and Jenny Hahs presented three papers at the annual conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics, which took place in New York.

Our project A03 was able to give three presentations at the 31st Annual Conference of the Society for the Advancement of Socio-Economics (SASE), that took place at The New School in New York City:


Heiner Fechner, Jean-Yves Gerlitz and Jenny Hahs each received very good feedback on their presentations, as Hahs reports. She was also struck by the "inspiring, albeit certainly not uncontroversial, keynote speech" by Marie-Laure Salles-Djelic (Sciences Po, Paris) - "Prometheus to Dionysus: Can We Re-Enchant the Future?", in which she called on scientists to become more activist by saying: "We cannot only keep reading the world and lament ist state, we have to take an active part in changing too!"


Contact:
Dr. Heiner Fechner
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49-421-218-57070
E-Mail: hfechner@uni-bremen.de

Jean-Yves Gerlitz
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57088
E-Mail: gerlitz@uni-bremen.de

Jenny Hahs
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57069
E-Mail: jenny.hahs@uni-bremen.de

Julia Moses, PhD
Julia Moses, PhD
32 doctoral students from 14 countries will present and discuss their research projects at the Haus der Wissenschaft Bremen in the coming days. Julia Moses from the University of Sheffield gave the opening lecture on Monday.

On Monday afternoon, Herbert Obinger opened the 11th NordWel Summer School, which takes place at the Haus der Wissenschaft in Bremen and is hosted by CRC 1342. The Summer School brings together 32 doctoral students from 14 countries. They all do research on social policy issues and will present and discuss their work in smaller groups over the next five days. They will receive feedback from other doctoral students as well as from renowned scientists.

The opening lecture was given by Julia Moses, Reader at the Department of History of the University of Sheffield. She spoke about the development of family policy in Europe from the 18th to the 20th century, the aims and tools of which depended largely on the prevailing ideal of the family. The other keynotes will be given by Daniel Béland, Stephen Devereux, Patrick Emmenegger, Asa Lundqvist, Carina Schmitt and Reimut Zohlnhöfer.

The complete programme of the 11th NordWel Summer School can be found here.

The NordWel Summer School is a joint venture of the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", the Bremen International Graduate School of Social Sciences (BIGSSS), the Danish Centre of Welfare Studies and the Faculty of Social Sciences of the University of Helsinki.

 


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