News from Project B04

A team of authors from project B04 has investigated how ASEAN, the EU and Mercosur regulate labour migration and which social policy rights are granted to migrants. Intraregional inequalities are an important factor in this context.

Almost two years ago, the SOCIUM SFB 1342 Working Paper Series startet with a paper by Armando Barrientos. In the meantime, the 20th paper has been published, in which Friederike Römer, Eloisa Harris, Marcus Böhme and Susanne Schmidt examine how ASEAN, the EU and Mercosur regulate labour migration and which social policy rights are granted to migrants: "Labour migration and migrant social protection in three regional organisations - Inequalities as a driving force?"

The team identified milestone agreements for each organisation on free movement and/or access to social protection for intra-regional migrants.  In a next step, the level of inequality between member states was measured for different points in time, both in terms of GDP per capita and social expenditure.

In the ASEAN region, overall regional integration in regard to labour migration between member states is limited, the authors write. Existing agreements are non-binding and patchy, and intra-regional migrant workers are mostly excluded from measures of social protection.  Net receiving states (in terms of migration) are opposed to agreeing on measures of social protection that would potentially drive up wages and induce other costs.

This low level of cooperation on migration and social protection is accompanied by very high intra-regional economic inequality and a lower but still large inequality in social spending among member countries.

Mercosur on the other hand can be characterized as promoting a very far reaching ideal of free movement and open borders, conceptualizing migration as a human right, which includes the decriminalization of undocumented migrants. Since 1997 citizens of Mercosur states can transfer social security rights acquired in a member state to any other member state. In 2010 a citizenship statute was signed which is intended to enforce freedom of movement, equal treatment with regard to civil, social, cultural and economic rights and equal access to work, health and education.

In Mercosur, economic inequality is the lowest compared to ASEAN and the EU, but it has increased slightly over the last two decades. A similar trend can be observed in inequality of social spending.

Compared to ASEAN, but also to Mercosur, regional integration is most extensive in the European Union. In the course of enlargement, however, economic inequality has increased significantly. The differences in social expenditure are lower in comparison, but still relevant. Overall, EU enlargement increased the incentive for workers to migrate to the wealthier countries. Subsequently the interpretation of EU citizens' rights in the Europen Court of Justice has become more restrictive and the project of "Social Europe" has come to a halt. Nevertheless, the authors conclude, stagnation rather than reversal characterises the current state of affairs. Strong path dependency continues to keep existing far-reaching agreements in place, making the EU still the most integrated of the three organizations compared in this paper.

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Further reading: SOCIUM SFB 1342 Working Paper Series


Contact:
Eloisa Harris
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57080
E-Mail: eharris@uni-bremen.de

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

Prof. Dr. Susanne K. Schmidt
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67484
E-Mail: skschmidt@uni-bremen.de

In "Social Policy & Administration", 7 CRC 1342 projects have presented case studies of social policy dynamics in the Global South. Their synthesis shows: The concept of causal mechanisms is particularly well suited for analysing such dynamics.

Seven projects of CRC 1342's project area B have published a Special Regional Issue of "Social Policy & Administration": Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. The main research question the authors address is: Which causal mechanisms can capture the transnational dynamics of social policy in the Global South?

In order to find answers to this question, the authors present in‐depth case studies of social policy dynamics in different countries and regions in the Global South as well as different fields. All articles focus on the interplay of national and transnational actors when it comes to social policy‐making. (The papers of this Special Issue are listed below.)

The key findings of the authors are:

  • Explanations of social policy‐making in the Global South will remain incomplete unless transnational factors are taken into account
  • However, this does not mean that national factors are no longer important. In social policy decision‐making, national institutional settings and actors are key
  • Mechanism‐based research can plausibly trace the interplay between transnational and national actors and its impact on shaping social policy outcomes. The articles identify a variety of causal mechanisms that can capture this interplay
  • The output of social policy‐making is complex and can often not be explained by a single mechanism. Examining the combination and possible interaction of several causal mechanisms can provide more in‐depth explanations 
  • The concept of causal mechanisms can also be applied in comparative analyses
  • Mechanisms can be traced inductively in one case and then be applied to another case.


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Johanna Kuhlmann & Tobias ten Brink (2021). Causal mechanisms in the analysis of transnational social policy dynamics: Evidence from the global south. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12725

Armin Müller (2021). Bureaucratic conflict between transnational actor coalitions: The diffusion of British national vocational qualifications to China. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12689

Johanna Kuhlmann & Frank Nullmeier (2021). A mechanism‐based approach to the comparison of national pension systems in Vietnam and Sri Lanka. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12691

Kressen Thyen & Roy Karadag (2021). Between affordable welfare and affordable food: Internationalized food subsidy reforms in Egypt and Tunisia. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12710

Monika Ewa Kaminska, Ertila Druga, Liva Stupele & Ante Malinar (2021). Changing the healthcare financing paradigm: Domestic actors and international organizations in the agenda setting for diffusion of social health insurance in post‐communist Central and Eastern Europe. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12724

Gulnaz Isabekova & Heiko Pleines (2021). Integrating development aid into social policy: Lessons on cooperation and its challenges learned from the example of health care in Kyrgyzstan. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12669

Anna Safuta (2021). When policy entrepreneurs fail: Explaining the failure of long‐term care reforms in Poland. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12714

Jakob Henninger & Friederike Römer (2021). Choose your battles: How civil society organisations choose context‐specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina. Social Policy & Administration. https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12721


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. 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

Jakob Henninger, Dr. Friederike Römer
Jakob Henninger, Dr. Friederike Römer
Friederike Römer and Jakob Henninger have investigated how the goals of civil society organisations that advocate for migrants' welfare rights differ between autocracies and democracies. They explain their findings in an interview.

"Choose your battles. How civil society organisations choose context-specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina" is the title of a new paper by Jakob Henninger and Friederike Römer, published in Social Policy & Administration. In this interview, they explain their research design and results.

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For all those who have not yet read the paper: Can you briefly summarise your most important findings?

Friederike Römer: In our paper, we examine how civil society organisations - for example, non-governmental organisations, but also trade unions - campaign for migrants' access to welfare benefits. We compare Argentina with Malaysia, and thus a democracy with a country that, at least until recently, was classified as an electoral autocracy. We asked ourselves: What strategies do these organisations pursue? More precisely, what goals do they set for themselves? And what actions do they take? We found that there are major differences between the two cases: In Argentina, the organisations pursued more ambitious goals, namely the inclusion of immigrants in the whole range of welfare benefits - including benefits that do not require prior contributions. In Malaysia, on the other hand, the commitment was rather limited to certain contribution-based benefits. Inclusion in the tax-financed poverty reduction programme, for example, was never part of the strategy.

Jakob Henninger: We were able to show that the contextual factor "political system" can explain at least part of these differences. In both countries there are activists who work for the inclusion of migrants. However, civil society organisations in Argentina are better integrated into political processes. They had different resources and opportunities to influence political decisions. But the type of arguments put forward by the organisations also differed: In Argentina, human rights are often referred to and interpreted in terms of equality between migrants and the domestic population. References to human rights can also be found in Malaysia - but rather as a demand to comply with minimum standards.

You argue that CSOs choose their goals and activities depending on the type of regime. Could it not be that they also align their goals and activities with the values and general sentiment towards migrants among the majority population? The point I want to make is: How do you make sure that the respective regime type is the cause of the differences in CSOs and not other factors that you have not investigated?

Jakob Henninger: Of course, these two cases are different. But what is important is that they are also similar in many crucial aspects. Both countries have a long history of migration that goes back to the 19th century and continues to shape societies today. Today, they are among the main recipient countries of migration in their respective regions and some sectors of the economy are heavily dependent on migrant labour. Similarly, the welfare states of the two countries have similarities, even if they are not the same: Both have long been focused on contribution-based benefits, but have recently introduced more benefits that do not depend on contributions. Thus, we can rule out at least some factors as explanations for the differences.

Based on preliminary theoretical considerations, you outline some expectations in the introduction of the paper, which are then confirmed by empirical evidence (e.g. that CSOs in democracies tend to pursue the goal of equality for migrants, while CSOs in autocracies tend to pursue the goal of meeting the basic needs of migrants). Were there also things that have surprised you?

Friederike Römer: We had expected that the activities of the organisations would differ significantly. We would have thought that the Malaysian organisations would concentrate more on providing concrete help in emergency situations, while the Argentinian organisations would focus more on political advocacy. However, when we analysed the organisations' self-descriptions, we realised that the differences were not very big at first glance. That surprised us. For example, in both countries, a similar number of organisations stated that they were active in political advocacy or in legal aid for migrants. However, a closer look revealed differences: In Malaysia, activists told us how difficult it is to arrange meetings with representatives of ministries. In Argentina, working groups on migrants' rights are sometimes organised directly by the ministries and civil society representatives are officially invited. Similarly, it is interesting to note what is meant by legal aid in the two contexts. While organisations in Malaysia are trying to work towards the enforcement of existing law and, for example, to make claims for compensation payments to employers, Argentinian organisations have partly tried to mark existing law as unconstitutional and, ultimately, to change the legal basis, for example, when it comes to the right to reduced working capacity benefits.

Your paper is titled "Choose your battles" and hints at the interpretation of your results. Can you elaborate on this? For example, what role do the elements of efficiency (i.e. that CSOs only strive for realistically achievable goals) and positioning vis-à-vis entities of state power (including the threat of repression/impact on funding sources) play in the choice of goals and activities of CSOs?

Jakob Henninger: Both considerations of efficiency and strategic positioning vis-à-vis state power are major factors influencing organisations in their choice of strategy. For one thing, organisations have limited resources at their disposal, so they have to prioritise their goals. Therefore, they think carefully about which problems to address and which not. On the other hand, they have to make sure that their proposals resonate with policy makers and the wider public - both of these considerations apply to both contexts.

Friederike Römer: In an autocratic context like Malaysia, however, the concern about repressive state power has a very different relevance than in Argentina. Our Malaysian interviewees report that they take precautionary measures to protect themselves and the migrants they work with. In Argentina, on the other hand, confrontational strategies are quite common. Here we would again emphasise that the cause of these differences is to be found in the political regime.

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Read the full paper (open access):

Jakob Henninger, Friederike Römer: Choose your battles. How civil society organisations choose context‐specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina. Social Policy & Administration, 2021, online first: https://doi.org/10.1111/spol.12721


Contact:
Jakob Henninger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57077
E-Mail: jakob.henninger@uni-bremen.de

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

Eloisa Harris, Jakob Henninger and Friederike Römer (left to right)
Eloisa Harris, Jakob Henninger and Friederike Römer (left to right)
Migrant workers face severe economic uncertainties because of the pandemic, Eloisa Harris, Friederike Römer and Jakob Henninger write in a blog post for Social Europe. But the extent varies, depending on the social policies of the states.

For their analysis, Harris, Römer and Henninger compared the Covid-19 support programmes of Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Portugal, Sweden and the UK as well as their existing social benefits to which migrant workers may have access. 

Governments' programmes adopted so far are extensive, but the specific vulnerabilities of labour migrants appear largely to have been overlooked. 

Unemployment benefits are usually linked to contributions over several years, thus excluding migrant workers with their temporary employment contracts. Even social assistance is not an option in many countries, as it requires a permanent residence in the respective country. 

Some countries, write Harris, Römer and Henninger, at least paid reduced social benefits to migrant workers in the face of the Covid 19 pandemic.

Another major problem for migrant workers is that they may lose their residence and work permits due to unemployment. 

You can read the entire article "Covid-19 and migrant workers' social rights" on socialeurope.eu.


Contact:
Jakob Henninger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57077
E-Mail: jakob.henninger@uni-bremen.de

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

Svenja Gödecke
Svenja Gödecke
Svenja Gödecke explains how she is preparing for her doctoral thesis, why Europe is captivating her and what tasks she is taking on in subproject B04.


What would you have become if you hadn't become a scientist?

Good question - I have just graduated last summer. During the last semesters of my studies it became clear that I definitely wanted to work in science, especially as I was also very interested in teaching. Therefore, there was actually no alternative for me. With one small exception perhaps: In Brussels I did an internship with a German trade association. During the internship I was able to experience the EU "live" on site instead of just reading about procedures and actors. This was very interesting, but also a completely different world from the work at the university. I could have imagined working in this area for a while. But I'd have still worked on my PhD thesis in the meantime. No way I would have wanted to to lose touch with science.

You studied European Studies and later European Governance. Why this spatial specialisation?

I found the Bachelor European Studies interesting because it is interdisciplinary. I was able to satisfy my interest in politics and political science while learning different languages and gaining legal and economic insights. In addition, I find the development of European integration and the impact of the EU on its Member States particularly interesting. It is exciting to see how the merger of initially only six states has turned into an internationally unique entity like the EU - with competencies in almost all policy areas. This interest has continued to grow, which is why I enrolled in the Master's programme European Governance.

What will be your role within the CRC?
I am one of two PhD students with Prof. Schmidt and I will deal with the EU and Mercosur in Latin America. I am concerned with labour migration and look at what definitions and agreements do exist within the EU and Mercosur regarding labour migration, in order to explain later, for example, what repercussions these have on the nation states.

How will you conduct your research?

First of all I have to read intensively, because I have not yet dealt with Mercosur. Labour migration is also a relatively new field for me. Therefore I will mainly read, read, read in the near future. Then I can decide how to proceed. Although my work will most likely be qualitative: I will be doing interviews with experts, probably also travelling to Latin America and Brussels. But the details are not clear yet.

How long is your doctoral thesis scheduled for?

My contract runs for three years. The doctoral thesis will probably begin officially in the second half of this year. Until then I will work on the literature research.

Svenja Gödecke at a glance:
After graduating from high school in 2011, Svenja Gödecke studied European Studies and law at the University of Osnabrück. After graduating with a bachelor's degree, she earned a master's degree in European Governance. Her master thesis, which deals with the Europeanisation of sports policy, was awarded the Alumni-Förderpreis Sozialwissenschaften of the University of Osnabrück in March 2018.


Contact:
Svenja Gödecke
Prof. Dr. Ralf Kleinfeld and the award winners Caroline Mulert, Svenja Gödecke und Christina Hafkemeyer (left to right). Picture: Utz Lederbogen
Prof. Dr. Ralf Kleinfeld and the award winners Caroline Mulert, Svenja Gödecke und Christina Hafkemeyer (left to right). Picture: Utz Lederbogen
Her master thesis on EU policy was awarded by the University of Osnabrück.

Our researcher Svenja Gödecke has received the Alumni-Förderpreis Sozialwissenschaften 2017/2018 of the University of Osnabrück for her master thesis. Gödecke, who graduated in European Governance in Osnabrück in summer 2017, dealt with the topic "The Europeanisation of Sports Policy: The Establishment of an "EU Sports Policy" and the Effects of Europeanisation for EU Member States by the Example of Germany" in her Master Thesis.

Svenja Gödecke has been working as a researcher at the Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS) at the University of Bremen since October 2017. Within the CRC 1342 she is working in project B04, in which she will do her PhD.

Each academic year, the University of Osnabrück honours outstanding academic achievements and social commitment. In the academic year 2017/2018, a total of 31 students and graduates received awards.

Further information:
Svenja Gödecke at a glance
Förderpreis of the University of Osnabrück: Winners and Donors


Contact:
Svenja Gödecke