News from Project A06

Keonhi Son, Helen Seitzer
Keonhi Son, Helen Seitzer
Seitzer wrote her doctoral thesis in project A05 on transnational education policy, Son in project A06 on the inclusiveness of maternity leave programmes worldwide.

Helen Seitzer defended her PhD thesis on "Conceptualising the Transational Education Policymaking Process from a Relational Perspective" at the beginning of October. She has already published parts of her work in international journals.

Keonhi Son defended her thesis ("The Influence of the ILO Maternity Protection Conventions on the historical development of paid maternity leave in the world") on 25 October 2021. Son argues that informal sector workers, especially women, in the Global South are excluded from the application of international labour standards because of the way states translate and implement these standards. Son was able to test this argument using a database on paid maternity leave in 165 countries between 1883 and 2018, which she had built in collaboration with other members of the A06 project.

Further defences of doctoral theses in CRC 1342 will follow in the coming days and weeks.


Contact:
Helen Seitzer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57084
E-Mail: seitzer@uni-bremen.de

Keonhi Son
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58541
E-Mail: son@uni-bremen.de

Eloisa Harris, Franziska Deeg, Simone Tonelli
Eloisa Harris, Franziska Deeg, Simone Tonelli
Franziska Deeg, Eloisa Harris and Simone Tonelli will conduct anonline survey in Brazil and Germany this spring. The study is co-funded by the Dr. Hans Riegel-Foundation.

Franziska Deeg (project B03), Eloisa Harris (PhD Fellow at BIGSSS) and Simone Tonelli (project A06) have jointly developed a research concept to find out how the Covid-19 pandemic affects the attitudes of the German and Brazilian population towards globalisation and the welfare state. The surveys, planned for spring 2021, will be funded by the CRC 1342 and the Dr. Hans Riegel-Stiftung. In an interview conducted by email, Deeg, Harris and Tonelli explain the background and hypotheses of their study.

When the pandemic began to spread, globalization became shock-frozen - governments restricted international travelling and or closed boarders entirely. Many countries began to realize how dependent they are on global production and trade chains – and their governments announced to reverse this dependence for critical goods and sectors of the economy. On the other hand, the testing, financing, and distribution of vaccines to fight the pandemic seems impossible without the advantages globalization is providing. One year into the pandemic – what is your take on the future of globalisation?

Deeg, Harris und Tonelli: This question, or more like paradox, is among those that inspired our project. Over the past decades, we witnessed a resurgence of neoliberal tendencies, growing international free trade, and the crystallization of a global supply chain that made countries significantly more dependent to one another. At the same time, the process of economic globalization created a group of so-called “losers”, that is, a group of people whose jobs and incomes are threatened by international markets. Now, the pandemic is bringing home the existence of novel health-related risks of globalization, and further economic and social divides that have resulted as a consequence of wealth disparity and diverging strategies of government intervention across the globe.

Clearly, we do not have (yet) an answer to your question. As you mentioned, on the one hand the run for a vaccine is making clear the importance of international cooperation, positively affecting the support for a more political globalization. On the other hand, the economic repercussion may push people into more protectionist tendencies and further reduce the support for economic globalization. However, we think that the individual preferences for more or less economic and political globalization will depend on the extent, and the kind, of exposure people had to the economic, health-related and social consequences of the pandemic.

The welfare state plays a critical role in mitigating the non-health-related effects of the pandemic. In the survey, that you are preparing, you want to investigate citizens’ attitudes towards the welfare state, and how this may have changed due to the pandemic. Shouldn’t the answer to this be straightforward?

Deeg, Harris und Tonelli: If there is something research on social policy preferences taught us is that support for redistribution is never straightforward. In the project, we build on existing literature about why and how preferences are formed, to explain potential differences between groups and between countries. Demand for social policies are not just a function of income, as traditional welfare state scholarship may suggest, but interact with a number of other factors: Labour market volatility, education, optimism, political trust and other environmental factors. We draw from two main arguments to generate expectations about which groups support different social policies, and why. In a similar way, we argue that the pandemic is exposing to its economic consequences some groups more than others, and thus, the preferences of the individuals will be also a function of the exposure to these risks. We put forward two mechanisms that we think can explain how the exposure to risk affects policy preferences. On the one hand, we expect that exposure to economic insecurity caused by the pandemic will lead individuals affected by economic insecurity to demand insurance from their risk. On the other hand, given the extend of media coverage about the consequences of the pandemic, individuals who were not directly affected by the pandemic may feel solidaristic with certain groups and support more redistribution. Thus, we expect that both those economically affected, through self-interest, and those not affected, through solidarity, to support welfare state spending.

Furthermore, as the risks associated with the current situation are transversal to the traditional welfare state coalitions, it will be interesting to see if new coalitions will emerge as a consequence of the pandemic. This will be especially interesting in the context of Brazil, where the welfare state is highly fragmented and covers certain some groups (formal workers) better than others (informal workers). In this context, welfare preferences have so far not been clearly visible, because of low trust in the government, low tax morale etc., but a disruptive event such as the pandemic might change that.

In your survey will look at Brazil and Germany. Why did you choose these two countries?

Deeg, Harris und Tonelli: The two countries are interesting to compare because they are both highly integrated in the global market, they were both highly affected by the crisis, not only in terms of health but also in terms of the economy. Both governments took severe containment measures. At the same time, these containment measures were not equally effective, the two economies vary in the degree of work-from-home and they have different welfare systems. We think these are interesting variations to test our assumptions in different contexts.

How will your survey be rolled out? Do you have access to a representative sample of the population? Or will the survey be online for everyone to participate?

Deeg, Harris und Tonelli: We will conduct online surveys in Germany and Brazil in March 2021 (roughly one year after the start of the global pandemic). We will use an international survey company which works similarly to a market place, where people can select in which surveys they want to participate. We will be able to connect with over 1000 respondents per country (final number of observations to be determined) and the survey will be representative for the online population and stratified by age (between 18 and 65), gender, region and either income or education (we are still looking into it).

Due to budget limitations, we are unable to field household surveys. Of course, sampling can always be improved but we are positive that our samples will be sufficiently representative of our population of interest: 86% of Germans and about 67% of Brazilians have access to the internet. However, non-users are overrepresented among the elderlies and they would be excluded anyway from our survey.

The three of you are researchers in different projects of the CRC and at the BIGGGS. Why did you decide to cooperate on this?

Deeg, Harris und Tonelli: Through the CRC, we had the chance to get to know each other be it at Jour Fixe, Summer Schools or at social events. Even though our CRC-projects focus on different aspects of the welfare state, we found that we have other common research interests, such as the study of individual policy preferences and attitudes, survey methods and quantitative analysis. Each of us brings complementary knowledge to the project, and all of us bring what we have learned in the past years in the CRC to develop something ourselves.


Contact:
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

Simone Tonelli
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58540
E-Mail: si_to@uni-bremen.de

Son and her co-author Reimut Zohlnhofer received the JCPA Best Comparative Article Award for their paper on the statistical analysis of privatisation and the role of the indicators chosen in the process.

In their paper "Measuring Privatization: Comparing Five Indicators of the Disposition of State-Owned Enterprises in Advanced Democracies", published in Volume 21:4 of the Journal of Comparative Policy Analysis, Son and Zohlnhofer examine the use of indicators to determine privatization.

In the scientific literature, numerous such indicators are circulating, most of which are treated as equivalents. However, little attention is paid to whether they actually match each other closely. In their paper, Son and Zohlnhofer state that the correlations between these indicators are alarmingly low. As a consequence, it has been shown that the results of statistical analyses can differ significantly depending on which privatisation indicator is used. Son and Zohlnhofer therefore suggest that the different indicators should not be considered as equivalents but as measurements of different aspects of privatisation.

The jury explained its decision to award the prize to Son and Zohlnhofer with the following words:

"'Measuring Privatization' by Son and Zohlnhöfer takes comparative policy analysis seriously and advances the field by shedding light on the multiple dimensions of different dependent variables/indicators that often have been seen as substitutes for each other. The authors highlight the importance of choosing the right indicators to explain phenomena that analysts seek to understand. They illustrate why scholars using large-N data sometimes end up with inconclusive or mixed results when they ignore this fundamental issue. More importantly, this study of state-owned enterprises has implications for other sectors and comparative approaches to important policy issues. The focus on indicators is widely used in comparative policy analysis, and this article contributes to the policy literature on privatization and to the development of methods in the broader field of comparative policy studies."


Contact:
Keonhi Son
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58541
E-Mail: son@uni-bremen.de

Prof. Rueyming Tsay
Prof. Rueyming Tsay
Rueyming Tsay is currently staying as Visiting Scholar in project A06 “Formation and diffusion of family policy in a global perspective”

Project A06 is hosting Rueyming Tsay, Professor of Sociology at Tunghai University, Taiwan, who is a leading expert on family issues, particularly aging. His research interests also include social stratification, sociology of education, and quality of life. He has recently worked on a comparative study assessing the effects of family and social engagement on quality of life and health of the elders in Taiwan, China, and the US. The data were collected by research teams of Tunghai University and the University of Hawaii at Manoa to compare the aging process of Chinese in different societies and across cultural boundaries.

Professor Tsay will stay in Bremen until July 2020. His expertise on Asian societies, particularly related to the family culture, provides a valuable background for research performed at CRC.

Countries in East and Southeast Asia experienced an extraordinary pace of demographic and social change over the past five decades. Still, comparative welfare state research and research on family policy in this world region is scarce. It has been argued that trends in marriage and fertility reflect the tension between rapid social and economic changes on the one hand and limited change in family expectations and obligations on the other. Also, retirement arrangement within Asian families has become a significant issue for the policy makers. Demographic trends and Asian approach to social policy and family policy are thus highly contingent on traditional family values and practices.

An opportunity to get to know more about Professor Tsay’s work will also present itself when he will give a presentation at the Jour Fixe lecture series in May 2020.


Contact:
Prof. Sonja Drobnič
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-66360
E-Mail: sonja.drobnic@bigsss.uni-bremen.de

Keonhi Son
Keonhi Son
Keonhi Son is especially interested in social policies of emerging countries. In an interview she explains why the shortcomings of the South Korean social system are a major motivating factor for her.

You studied in South Korea and made a bachelor’s degree, but then you gave your career a complete turn-around. Please tell me about it.

I did my bachelor's degree in South Korea and then I started a totally new subject in a different country.

What was your first subject?

My first subject was English literature and I specialised in English theatre. I was quite into it at that time. But at one point I made another decision.

Why? Did you work in that field and did not like it?

I worked a bit for a theatre company and then I went to London to learn a bit more. Then I moved to Germany to study more. But I really didn't like theatre studies in Germany. That was when I realised that literature and theatre may not be the right thing for me. So I started to figure out what my second favourite subject was: public administrative studies or political science - in South Korea both are very mixed.

And that was what you made your master's degree in Heidelberg in.

Yes, in Public Policy.

Political or administrative science is very different to literature and theatre – what is it that you like about the subject so much?

First of all, studying political science was great fun. But secondly South Korea really needs to develop its social policy right now. Because we achieved economic development but the other factors didn't follow up yet. So I wanted to contribute to that. My parents and my relatives for example suffer from the absence of a well-established pension system. Somehow I was thinking: Maybe I can do something about it. Germany was a perfect place for me to study. Because it has quite a long history of social security systems.

I read that South Korea recently made some progress in terms of social policy: They reduced the weekly working hours - from 68 to 52!

Still very much!

Do South Koreans really work that much?

Yes, they do. It's a totally different mindset from European people. People back then had a very high level of job security and at the same time they thought they belonged to the company - they dedicated their life to their company. Even if the company exploited the people. But for a long time the people were okay with that and thought: This is the place I belong to. But now job security in South Korea is very low. Young people do not want to do long hours anymore: "Your are not going to hire me forever, so why should I work for you forever?" The reduction of the working hours is a good sign but at the same time it is sad. Because now job security is very low. Like anywhere else.

What would you like to achieve in your career in the next 30 to 40 years?

That is a very long time. I think in our generation we will have to change our jobs our jobs often. But I really want to be a researcher. I want to study social policy of less developed countries. So the CRC is the perfect project for me because I always wanted to study this subject especially in my region. I am not so sure if I want to BE or BECOME something in terms of career, but I am sure that I want to DO something.

Does that mean that you want to change the South Korean society?

I would like to help a bit. Change is too big a word. I am not that ambitious. I would like at least to provide a good model of social policy that might work. When Europe developed its welfare state, the constellation was completely different to the one we encounter in Soth Korea right now. It is a very different game now. We need to produce a new model of social policy. We can't just copy the European system. Working on the development of such a new system, that is what I want to do.

If you had anything you needed: enough research money, bright colleagues and all the necessary knowledge - which research question would you like to solve?

That is a very big question. I think it's quite similar to what I already told you. The less developed countries are in a situation that they have suffered from financial crisis, rapid globalisation, de-industrialisation, post-industrialisation and so on - with all of these things happening we should know how to develop our social policies, because we developed the social security systems way slower than our economy. And before the private insurance system will dominate the entire system, we should somehow find a way to provide a public social system.


Contact:
Keonhi Son
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 9
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58541
E-Mail: son@uni-bremen.de