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. Armando Barrientos
Prof. Armando Barrientos
Barrientos, a leading expert in social policy and poverty reduction in the Global South, will stay in Bremen until early December.

Armando Barrientos has joined the Collaborative Research Center 1342 last week as a Mercator Fellow. Barrientos is a leading international expert on social policy and poverty reduction in the Global South. Most recently he has publishes extensively on the expansion of social assistance in Latin America, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa.

Barrientos will initially stay in Bremen until the beginning of December. During this time he will participate in the conference "Causal Mechanisms in the Analysis of Social Policy Dynamics", where he will give a lecture on "The rise and fall of Bismarckian social policy in Latin America". In the coming weeks, Barrientos will also consult with various projects of the CRC 1342. After his visit Barrientos will remain a consultant and cooperation partner of the CRC 1342. In the coming year, for example, he will organise a colloquium for doctoral students researching social policy in Latin America.

Armando Barrientos is the first Mercator Fellow at the CRC 1342. The DFG-funded Mercator Fellowships facilitate intensive and long-term exchange with international researchers.


Contact:
Prof. Armando Barrientos
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58521
E-Mail: Armando.Barrientos@manchester.ac.uk

Prof. John W. Meyer
Prof. John W. Meyer
In a workshop, the Stanford professor discussed the projects of four PhD students. Previously, he had given a lecture on New Institutionalism, which is documented on video.

John W. Meyer is currently Hans-Koschnick-Professor at Socium and CRC 1342. On October 30th he gave a workshop on New Institutionalism: After his key note on "New Institutionalis in a Globalizing World", four PhD students from CRC 1342 presented their research projects and received valuable feedback from John W. Meyer and other guests. 

John W. Meyer will be working at the University of Bremen until mid-November. You can watch his lecture here:


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Michael Windzio
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58629
E-Mail: mwindzio@uni-bremen.de

Kristin Noack (left) and Johanna Fischer
Kristin Noack (left) and Johanna Fischer
Johanna Fischer and Kristin Noack report on their experiences with a presentation workshop adressing women in science specifically.

At the end of September, Saskia Schottelius offered her 2-day workshop "The Art of Self-Presenting for Female Scientists" at CRC 1342. Why did you decide to participate?

Kristin Noack: I was interested in the workshop because presentations are not my favorite situations. And I especially liked the fact that the course was specifically aimed at women who feel the same way.

Johanna Fischer: Presentations are an important part of our scientific work. I feel very comfortable in small groups, but sometimes I'm nervous in larger rooms where I don't know the exact audience. In this respect, I had the feeling that I could learn a lot in the workshop, or that I could certainly turn off things that had crept in.

What did the trainer do with you during the two days?

Fischer: At the beginning we concentrated on language and made sure to speak positively. For example, we did an exercise where we had to write down adjectives for each letter of the alphabet that could be applied positively to strong women. We reflected on this later in order to become aware of our strengths. Then we did many exercises for speaking. We had to present different things to our counterpart - e.g. about how to start consciously, or time management. Other topics were body language and voice exercises, especially how to find your voice.

Was that already specially designed for women?

Fischer: Not during the vocal exercises. But we also dealt with the Imposter Syndrome. According to surveys, female scientists and female leaders feel much more often and more strongly taht they are impostors, they do not assess their skills positively and tend to pay attention to deficits. Although nobody can be 100 percent perfect, women often perceive it in such a way that they still have to be perfect for their job. Men often think, "I can only do it 60 percent, but that's okay. That's what we've been talking about, including dominant speaking behaviour in groups.

Noack: On the second day almost every one of us gave a presentation. The audience had to pay attention to certain things and give feedback. And the feedback, it was agreed beforehand, should focus on the positive aspects, but still be serious and sincere. In a scientific context, you often focus on the negative things, and that of course promotes certain insecurities. In this respect, it was encouraging to get some positive things reflected about our way of presentation. On the second day we also did meditation exercises and some Tai Chi and Qigong.

Which of the contents were most beneficial to you? Which ones will you try to implement?

Fischer: The so-called Pre-Introduction was very helpful when it came to the structure of a presentation. In the beginning of a presentation the audience often doesn't listen at all, which is why a short introduction to the topic, e.g. with something rather general or an anecdote, can be helpful. I will try to include this in my next presentation.

Noack: We were a very mixed group: a few women from the SFB, but also some from marum and BIGSSS with different scientific foci. I found it very empowering to be in such a group. We were so very different scientists, but there are topics that concern us all. And being a good scientist can mean different things. What I am trying to do is to pay more attention to what is going well, because you are often too hard on yourself. The workshop gave me some ideas.

Did you also talk about differences between men and women?

Fischer: We talked about speaking behaviour. Many men think they have something to say in discussions and have to speak up, even if they are not experts on the subject themselves. But we also said that as women we do not necessarily want to copy that.

Noack: Most of the time it was not about reproducing stereotypes either, but about reflecting on ourselves and our behaviour. And to try out and practice certain things for ourselves. During the workshop the focus was on us as female scientists.

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.