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 Dr Tim Vlandas
Prof Dr Tim Vlandas
At the CRC 1342, Tim Vlandas of the University of Oxford presented results of his research on the rise of far right parties in Europe. Economic cultural insecurity play a central role, as does social policy.

On Wednesday, Tim Vlandas, Associate Professor of Comparative Social Policy at the University of Oxford, visited the CRC 1342 in Bremen. He presented the results of his research on the influence of economic and cultural insecurities on the electoral success of far right parties and the role of social policy in this context. Vlandas had analysed data from the European Social Survey on 24 European states from seven different years.

According to the Vlandas research, both economic and cultural insecurities of voters play a role in whether they decide to vote for far right parties. However, they have different effects on the electoral decisions of different social groups. To briefly pick out two examples:

  • Voters who feel culturally insecure (mostly as a result of increasing immigration and the social discussion about it) tend more to vote for far right parties - above all - and this may come as a surprise - if they feel economically secure.
  • Economic insecurity, on the other hand, increases the likelihood of voting for far right parties only among voters who are not feeling culturally insecure.


According to Vlandas, social policy acts as a buffer: Above all, the success of far right parties is counteracted by generous unemployment benefits, high pension levels, minimum wages and extensive support for families. Cuts - or even stagnation in social policy spending in times of rising demand for support - have the opposite effect.

Philipp Manow's and Carina Schmitt's working groups at the Socium are seeking a student assistant working for 45 hours per month.

At the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, the working groups Prof Dr Philipp Manow and Prof Dr Carina Schmitt are seeking to fill the following position:

Student Assistant for 45 hours per month

We are looking for a highly motivated and reliable student assistant, with the ability to work in a team and independently, to support research activities on historical origins of contemporary social outcomes. Tasks will vary, but consist mainly of digitizing and geocoding historical maps, and–depending on skills—participation in more analytical research activities. Prior experience with GIS software is a must and good English language skills are desired. The completion of a thesis within the scope of the project is possible but not required.

Main tasks

  • Development of a procedure for digitizing and geocoding historical print maps
  • Geocoding of historical maps (i.e. creation of point and shape-files) based on the developed procedure
  • Manipulation and analysis of geocoded data


Necessary qualifications

  • Interest in geographic social science research
  • Prior experience working with GIS software (e.g. Arcmap, ArcGIS QGIS)


Desirable qualifications

  • Knowledge of statistical software applications (e.g. Excel, R)
  • Good English language skills


We are looking for someone to start at the next possible date. The position encompasses 45 working hours per month for six months with the possibility of extension. It offers the opportunity to further develop knowledge and skills acquired during your studies, as well as a great working atmosphere in the teams led by Prof Dr Philip Manow and Prof Dr Carina Schmitt.

If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact Bastian Becker, PhD (bastian.becker@uni-bremen.de).

Please submit your application by 30 April 2019, as a PDF document to the same email address (CV, current transcript of records, and a writing sample, e.g. BA thesis or course essay).

Michael Schmidt
Michael Schmidt
The Chairman of the Personnel Council of the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs discussed with members of the CRC 1342 who is involved in the negotiation of such contracts and which factors are relevant.

Michael Schmidt first gave an overview of existing bilateral and multilateral social security agreements in Europe and Latin America. He then concentrated on bilateral pension insurance agreements that Germany has entered into or is trying to establish with other nations.

According to Schmidt, the closer the economic ties between the two countries are, the more likely it is that a bilateral social security agreement will be successfully reached. After all, avoiding double social security contributions is in the interests of both companies and employees working abroad. However, a high level of economic integration alone is not sufficient, as the examples of Russia and South Africa show: For years, Germany has been trying in vain to reach a social security agreement with Russia, Schmidt said (although he did not explain the reasons in more detail); such an agreement with South Africa seems to be almost impossible, since the social security system there is predominantly organised privately and is therefore hardly compatible with the German system. The more similar the social security systems of two states are, Schmidt said, the more likely it is that a joint social security agreement will be reached.

As a rule, international social security agreements are stable - Schmidt cannot remember any agreement that was ever terminated. The withdrawal of Great Britain from the European Union could be a first in this respect: "Should it come to a no-deal Brexit", Schmidt said, "the pension insurance claims of tens of thousands of Britons in Germany and tens of thousands of Germans in Great Britain would also be affected". There would then be no regulation for the recognition of claims acquired abroad.

Haus der Wissenschaft (© Haus der Wissenschaft e.V.)
Haus der Wissenschaft (© Haus der Wissenschaft e.V.)
The CRC 1342 invites PhD students to the summer school "State, Society and Citizen - Cross-disciplinary Perspectives on Welfare State Development". The workshops and discussions will take place from 19 to 23 August in Bremen.

The Nordwel summer school aims to stimulate discussions across disciplines and foster innovative cross-disciplinary research on the development of welfare states over time and in a global context.

We invite PhD students from different disciplinary backgrounds to participate in the discussion on the development of welfare states, their preconditions, present status, and how we ought to study them. PhD students present their papers in parallel sessions and get feedback from senior scholars and junior colleagues.

For more information on the programme of the 11th NordWel Summer School, the application process and the call for papers, please visit the dedicated section on our website.

 

Hubertus Heil and Eva Quante-Brandt
Hubertus Heil and Eva Quante-Brandt
Hubertus Heil was a visiting SOCIUM and CRC 1342 , where the Federal Minister discussed pension reform proposals and the future of social policy research.

Hubertus Heil, Federal Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, discussed with members of the Collaborative Research Centre "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" and of SOCIUM on Friday. Topics were pension and labour market policy reform projects as well as the situation of social policy research.

Low pensions and growing poverty among the elderly are a pressing problem that challenges the legitimacy of the public pension system altogether. Heil said that he was eagerly awaiting the recommendations of the Pension Commission, which are expected for March 2020. However, the government could not "not do any pension policy" until then. In connection with his latest pension reform proposal, the introduction of a so-called basic pension, Heil asked the social policy researchers present whether they considered a means test advisable. Frank Nullmeier, speaker of the SOCIUMS and board member of the SFB 1342, said that a means test was not advisable, the scientific community agreed on this point.

According to Nullmeier, the basic pension does not cover the growing group of precarious self-employed people, who, however, are particularly threatened by poverty in old age. Nullmeier introduced the idea of a "digital social insurance" in order to counter their poverty in old age: business premises of the digital economy, e.g. Internet hubs, could be subject to a levy linked to the data volume in order to generate employer-equivalent contributions to the public pension scheme for precarious self-employed persons (similar to the Künstlersozialversicherung). Heil then said that in many cases it was difficult to define who was self-employed, but the concept was interesting.

"As Minister of Labour and Social Affairs, I am dependent on social policy research beyond the time horizon of daily politics in order to identify and solve problems early on," said Hubertus Heil. With the funding network interdisciplinary social policy research (FIS), his ministry has taken an important first step towards promoting social policy research. Further projects are to follow. The Minister did not go into detail on this point. He simply said: "My dream is a DIW for social policy research". The German Institute for Economic Research (DIW) is one of the largest economic research institutes in Germany and is a non-profit association funded by the State of Berlin and the Federal Government. Additional means stem from third-party projects and donations.

Prof Dr Klaus Schlichte
Prof Dr Klaus Schlichte
Klaus Schlichte talks about his research stay in Kampala: systematic research, planned irritations, and coincidence revealed a lot about social policy issues of Uganda.

Dear Mr. Schlichte, for project B09 you have recently been in Uganda for about two months. What was the aim of the stay?

My aim was a general mapping. Because social policy in Africa is by no means as well researched as in the OECD or Europe. And there are forms of social policy that are less present in the Global North, such as subsidising staple foods or preventing epidemics. So my aim was to gather views on this: What do people think about social policy issues in Uganda? What are the positions of the government? What do nurses, doctors or teachers' unions think? But I also wanted to know how "ordinary" people, i.e. non-experts, deal with issues like illness or health care in everyday life. There was no overarching question: in mapping, you try to put together a collage and be open to everything that arises.

But you have not flown to Uganda unprepared, have you?

Of course not. I have worked on other issues in Uganda before and therefore have a number of contacts. Nevertheless, I didn't want to go looking for material with a narrow question in mind. We call this field research, you could also call it ethnography. Of course I also do expert interviews, but everyday stories are just as much a part of it as everything that' s written in the newspaper and what people tell me in informal conversations. I also collect all kinds of documents, informal papers, for example from development aid organisations working in Uganda. The assumption is that everything is material. Everything you see, hear and find. There is no limit.

So you flew to Kampala with one suitcase and returned with five? Or more seriously: How do you document your work during mapping?

In the past, when all documents were still printed, I actually packed mailbags and sent them to Germany. But of course, almost everything in Uganda is digitalized today and fits on a USB stick and in a few folders.

And do you record conversations with people?

Sometimes. But most of them I don't. A lot of conversations are everyday conversations, so it would be very strange to fiddle around with the microphone in someone else's face. I usually take notes in conversations and write everything down in detail afterwards. This later results in a transcript of the conversation. The important thing is that I sit down straight away. That's why I immediately go to a café, go home or to the library after a conversation and write a transcript based on my notes.

Was there anything on your trip that surprised you?

What surprised me was that all the policies are subject to Uganda's democratic machine. This goes so far that many Ugandan experts now doubt democratisation because political competition has become so fierce that it creates interference in all kinds of policies.

Can you give an example?

Let us look at police work in Uganda. During election campaigns, the entire police force is on the road on behalf of the government. Everything is used so that the president can travel smoothly through the country and the masses can be organised to cheer for him. The normal police work is left behind, and the resources of the police are not abundant anyway. This principle also applies to schools and health care. Political support is generated through the distribution of already scarce public resources. We also know this from Germany: certain regions and groups are provided with resources to generate loyalty. In Uganda, this is happening in a radical way, which has to do with widespread poverty. The incumbents set the entire state in motion for political competition. Even intellectual, liberal and progressive people told me that Ugandans should vote less and at longer intervals, because too much money and too many resources are being burned for creating loyalty. I was surprised at how critical the public opinion has become of democratic procedures.

Elections in Uganda take place every 4 or 5 years.

Yes, usually the president is in office for five years, the parliament is also elected every five years. That sounds like a relaxed rhythm. But loyalty must be secured in between as well. You need parliamentary majorities. And Parliament is not as disciplined by parties as it is here, instead the loyalty of MPs is also managed by building hospitals, roads and the like. Because the MPs are under a certain pressure to deliver certain benefits to their constituency.

Which brings us to social policy.

Where are the hospitals being built? Where they are beeing needed, or where the MP lives whose support is being needed? This logic surprised me. I do not think that Uganda is an isolated case here; we will be able to observe this in many states, including far beyond Africa: the political establishment is also an entrepreneurial establishment. For example, the Permanent Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education is also the owner of several private secondary schools. The same can be seen with many members of parliament. These are political entrepreneurs who are strongly linked to the privatization of education and health. This has created an oligarchy that can have no interest at all in making education and health a public good again. The booming market for education in Uganda in particular is firmly in the hands of those who also have the political say. A locked-in situation, which is so stalled that one wonders: How will this ever change again? This is perhaps a second thesis that emerged from the stay.

I imagine it would be difficult to verify on-site such things as the confictinginterests of the Permanent Secretary of State in the Ministry of Education.

Of course, people don't tell you in front of a microphone, rather in a confidential conversation. But you can verify such things just as you can in Germany, for example, by going to the Chamber of Commerce and looking up who is registered there as an entrepreneur and for which business.

I ask because your colleague Roy Karadag tried a similar mapping in Egypt and was blocked, at least by the authorities and ministries.

That is quite different in Uganda. You have to register with the authorities and ministries at the reception desk, but then - and this makes it incredibly easy for research - you can move around the building completely freely. You simply knock on the doors. You may have to wait or come back the next day, but the people are always willing to talk. Uganda is much more liberal than Germany, in this respect.

Your mapping method also depends on coincidences. One such coincidence has made you familiar with the Ugandan hospital system. Would you briefly tell me about that?

In Kampala I stayed with a former doctoral student who sublet rooms of her house. A news presenter was staying there as well as my landlord's uncle, who had come to Kampala from the countryside because he had tongue cancer. His example illustrated to me how Uganda's health care system works and what role family, kinship and friendship play in social security. Uganda has about 40 million inhabitants. For people who do not have private health insurance and cannot afford surgery - about 98 percent of the population - there is exactly one ward in the whole country where cancer surgery is possible. His uncle would have died if his niece hadn't had a job to finance his hospital stay. That was the first condition why he is still alive today. The second was that 20 Chicago doctors operated in the hospital for two weeks without pay - day and night in alternating shifts. This was the only reason why the operation was possible at that time. Most doctors and nurses who work in Uganda's public hospitals cannot make a living from their salary, which is why they also work in private clinics. This explains why cancer surgery in Uganda does not run as smoothly as it does in our country.

What happened to the man?

There are no rehabilitation clinics in Uganda, so he was discharged a few days after the operation. For someone from the countryside the question then arises: How do you get home from the hospital? The median income in Uganda is 55,000 shillings a month, the equivalent of about 25 euros. The transport from Kampala to the countryside, let's say 400 kilometres in distance, costs about 30,000 shillings, which is an average monthly income. Many patients are therefore dependent on help. Thus, complete strangers at the hospital give money to such patients. That sounds romantic now, but it also has a downside: Because these kinds of moral obligations are also the background to what we denounce as corruption. After all, the money has to come from somewhere. If there is mass poverty, there is also corruption - not because people are bad, but on the contrary: because access to public resources is the most important access to resources of all.
How all this is intertwined in the health sector was not obvious to me before. That is perhaps the most important reason for this form of research. I would not have to fly to Kampala for expert interviews. What I'm looking for there are "planned" irritations. In this way I discover issues and connections of which I knew little before, but which are important.

How will you continue your work now?

After collecting the material in Uganda, there is a phase of distancing. You discover certain things only when you look at the material again later, also because you have read other things and talked to others in the meantime. I started dealing with Uganda 20 years ago, and the recordings of that time are still full of useful information. I will now write an essay on Uganda and one on colonial social policy. The manuscripts will be ready by summer. But our research in project B09 also has a historical dimension. We want to record and analyse the ups and downs of social policies in six African countries. Then we hold the analyses next to each other. Are there similarities and differences? What happened at the same time, what happened in different phases and why? What were the external influences? Were there similar or contradictory influences? These are the questions that we will clarify in the first CRC funding phase. But we wanted to use the mapping to find out what developments there are in social policy in Africa and what questions arise from them that we can deal with in the second phase of the CRC.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Klaus Schlichte
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67475
E-Mail: kschlich@uni-bremen.de

Kristin Noack and Greta-Marleen Storath
Kristin Noack and Greta-Marleen Storath
Kristin Noack and Greta-Marleen Storath, PhD students at CRC 1342, tell in an interview why their participation at the 10th NordWel Summer School in Helsinki 2018 was well worth it.

Greta-Marleen and Kristin, you were in Helsinki last year for the 10th NordWel Summer School. Can you recommend the Summer School to other PhD students?

Greta-Marleen Storath: Yes, definitely. The atmosphere in Helsinki was totally nice and open and very supportive. It was our first Summer School, two months after we started our doctoral theses. Everyone understood that we were still at the very beginning.

So the Nordwel Summer School is suitable both for PhD students who are just starting out and for those who are more advanced?

Great-Marleen Storath: Yes. The Summer School was designed to support all PhDs and create an open forum. I felt very comfortable.

Kristin Noack: I can underline that. What I also liked about the Summer School was the interdisciplinary approach. The lectures gave us input from very different areas. Afterwards we went home with new ideas.

At the NordWel Summer School, the participants present a paper, which is then discussed. You had just started your doctoral theses at that time - did you still present something?

Greta-Marleen Storath: The participants presented very diverse pieces of work: Some presented articles, some a part of their dissertation. We presented our first draft proposal.

When you think about it today, did the feedback on your proposals help?

Kristin Noack: Yes, absolutely. At the NordWel Summer School, the paper is commented on by a senior researcher and another doctoral student and then discussed in the larger group. The colleague who commented on my proposal came from a similar area and gave me very detailed feedback, picking out very specific things from the proposal. That was really good.

Greta-Marleen Storath: I am writing on Sweden, and there was also a Swedish researcher in Helsinki who gave me very good feedback. What I also found very helpful: During the Summer School you comment on a paper from a colleague. I found that just as instructive as presenting my own proposal.

And how was the atmosphere between you doctoral students - constructive or competitive?

Kristin Noack: Super supporting. Although we have received some criticism, it has always been constructive and encouraging.

Greta-Marleen Storath: Yes, I didn't feel any competition at all. In the evening we all had dinner together and sat together, there was a lot of support and appreciation for each other's work.

But this year you probably won't take part, will you?

Kristin Noack: This time we let others take the opportunity.

 

The 11th NordWel Summer Scholl will take pace in Bremen, 19-23 August 2019. Please find the Call for Papers here.


Contact:
Kristin Noack
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58604
E-Mail: knoack@uni-bremen.de

Greta-Marleen Storath
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57068
E-Mail: gm.storath@uni-bremen.de

Prof Dr Ndangwa Noyoo
Prof Dr Ndangwa Noyoo
Ndangwa Noyoo, head of the "Social Development Department" at the University of Cape Town, was a guest at the CRC 1342 in Bremen last week. In a lecture he called for a "Global Social Policy" to reduce poverty migration.

Professor Ndangwa Noyoo (University of Cape Town) gave a lecture on "Global Social Policy in an Era of Increasing Unilateralism, Narrow Nationalism and Xenophobia" at CRC 1342 on Tuesday, February 12th. In the lecture, Noyoo pleaded for a renewal of international solidarity. He recalled programmatic development cooperation especially in the decades after the Second World War, which, unlike today's "band aid" humanitarianism, was committed to a transformative agenda.

According to Noyoo, who works in Cape Town on social development, the current "narrow nationalism" in industrialised countries has been triggered among other things by strong migration movements. "Global Social Policy" as a transformative international solidarity is therefore an important instrument to reduce poverty migration and thus to ease political discourses in the global North.


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

Prof Dr Heinz Rothgang
Prof Dr Heinz Rothgang
Technological solutions and devices for long-term care are being developed worldwide. In an interview with the TV station Radio Bremen, CRC member Heinz Rothgang has evaluated whether robots and IT are suitable for coping with the long-term care crisis.

"The use of robots and IT in long-term care is certainly part of the future, but it is not the only solution to the long-term care crisis," said Heinz Rothgang, director of projects A04 and B07, in the programme "buten und binnen" on Radio Bremen. "Technology can support but not replace people. Because care means communication and human affection". Technology cannot offer this. It can support and reduce the burden on caregivers, however, through sensor technology, remote monitoring and the like.

Rothgang is not concerned that humanity will suffer as soon as robots and IT are used in care. He rather has doubts that meaningful technical solutions will find their way into long-term care at all, as the use of technology in this area is generally looked upon with skepticism.

Heinz Rothgang and his staff at Socium are therefore investigating what wishes and needs for technical assistance really exist among people in need of long-term care as well as among care-givers. The aim is to ensure that technical solutions are developed that are actually applied effectively.

In "buten und binnen", Rothgang also emphasised that the attractiveness of the nursing profession must be increased considering the long-term care crisis, so that more people want to work in this field.

The entire interview with Heinz Rothgang (in German only): "buten und binnen" from 14.02.2019


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Heinz Rothgang
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58557
E-Mail: rothgang@uni-bremen.de