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.


Photo: AdobeStock/nosyrevy
Photo: AdobeStock/nosyrevy
The German Research Foundation extends the funding of the CRC 1342 for another four years until the end of 2025. The total funding volume is close to 15 million euros

The Collaborative Research Centre 1342 "Global Development Dynamics of Social Policy", led by the University of Bremen, can carry on with its research. The Grants Committee for Collaborative Research Centres of the German Research Foundation (DFG) has decided on 24 November to fund the CRC 1342 for another four years with a total of almost 15 million euros. The second funding phase will begin on 1 January 2022.

In addition to the SOCIUM as the core institute, other research institutes of the University of Bremen, Jacobs University Bremen, the University of Bielefeld and the University of Duisburg-Essen are involved in the Collaborative Research Centre 1342, which started in early 2018. In 15 projects, about 70 researchers from the disciplines of political science, sociology, history, geography, law and computer science are studying the worldwide developments of public social policy. The countries of the Global South are systematically taken into account.

Core question: Who is benefiting from social protection and to what extent?

So far, the CRC 1342 has focused on analysing the national, international and transnational impact mechanisms that have decisively influenced the introduction of social security systems and their design worldwide. "The core task over the next four years will now be to investigate the coverage and generosity of public social policy. In short, the question is: Who benefits from social protection and to what extent?", explains Herbert Obinger, spokesperson of the CRC 1342.

The CRC 1342 will consist of two project areas in the second funding phase: The six projects of Area A examine the dynamics of various social policy domains in a global and historical perspective; macro-quantitative analyses will be supplemented by individual case studies. The eight projects in Area B conduct case studies and comparisons for selected countries/regions and specific social protection programmes; the focus is on qualitative studies complemented by quantitative analyses.

In an information infrastructure project, the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) will be developed further. As in funding phase one, all research data collected will be fed into the web-based, interactive information system. WeSIS is expected to be released to the public in 2024. Then research institutions and the general public worldwide will be able to use all data stored in WeSIS at no charge for non-commercial purposes.

The participating research institutes and facilities at a glance

  • SOCIUM – Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, University of Bremen
  • Institute for Intercultural & International Studies (InIIS), University of Bremen
  • Research Group Information Management at the Faculty of Computer Science, University of Bremen
  • Research Centre for East European Studies at the University of Bremen
  • Institute for Labour and the Economy, University of Bremen/Arbeitnehmerkammer Bremen
  • Institute of Geography, University of Bremen
  • Institute of History, University of Bremen
  • Centre of European Law and Politics, University of Bremen
  • China Global. Center for the Study of China and Globalization, Jacobs University Bremen
  • Institute for Social Work and Social Policy, University of Duisburg-Essen
  • Faculty of Sociology, Bielefeld University

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

Johanna Fischer
Johanna Fischer
Fischer has studied the development of social policy in the field of long-term care both in a comparative and conceptual perspective.

Johanna Fischer is working in project A04 "Global Developments in Health Systems and Long-Term Care as a New Social Risk" and has written her doctoral thesis entitled "The Emergence of Social Policy in the Field of Long-term Care. A Comparative Analysis of the Introduction and Types of Long-term Care Systems in a Global Perspective".

Her work is based on three papers:


Johanna Fischer's work includes the first comprehensive comparative study on the introduction of long-term care systems worldwide and the development of a multi-dimensional, actor-centred typology of long-term care systems. Based on this, she has presented a systematic international comparison of long-term care systems and especially of social insurance-based long-term care systems.


Contact:
Johanna Fischer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57074
E-Mail: johanna.fischer@uni-bremen.de

Recent GLOBED graduate Cherine Sabry, co-supervised by CRC member Kerstin Martens, presents her findings at AEMS 2021 symposium at Indiana University.

Cherine Sabry has recently graduated from the GLOBED (Global Education Policies for Development) Masters programme, jointly offered by the Universitat Autónoma de Barcelona (Spain), Universität Bremen (Germany) and the University of Cyprus. She has written her thesis (2nd supervisor Kerstin Martens of CRC 1342 project A05) on regional education organisations in the Arab world, focusing on the case of the Arab League Educational, Cultural and Scientific Organization (ALECSO).

She presents her findings today at the 2021 Virtual Symposium on Advancing Education in Muslim Societies (AEMS). She reveals new insights regarding the role that regional organisations play in the design of education policy in the Arab and Muslim world, and how these policies are shaped by the interaction between regional and global IOs. Using a post-colonial framework for the analysis, Sabry has analysed ALESCO’s publications and publications by its partner organisations. The data was complemented by interviews with current and former ALECSO staff.

In her analysis Sabry found that the ALECSO is unmoored between two trends that pull it in different directions – on the one hand ALECSO aims to counter Western hegemony in the region and to promote and preserve the Arab culture and language; on the other hand the undeniable dominance of certain global IOs influence ALECSO’s work, so that it emulates global IOs, e.g. in using global guidelines and criteria to measure educational quality. This inconsistent strategy, combined with the lack of qualified staff, Sabry found, leads to a decline of the role ALECSO is playing in shaping education policy in the Arab world.

You can download a video of Cherine Sabry’s presentation that has been recorded previously: Regional Education Organizations in the Arab World


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67498
E-Mail: martensk@uni-bremen.de

Gabriela de Carvalho, Johanna Fischer
Gabriela de Carvalho, Johanna Fischer
Johanna Fischer and Gabriela de Carvalho explain in an interview how the country reports are produced and what added value they offer compared to other sources.

The twentieth issue of the CRC 1342 Social Policy Country Briefs was published a few days ago. On this occasion, could you briefly explain what this series is about?

Johanna Fischer: The series consists of short reports which each focus on a specific social policy field in an individual country. For instance, the latest two reports were published on the The Health Care System in Bulgaria (No 19) and the The Long-Term Care System in Sweden (No 20). In line with the CRC’s current focus on social policy emergence, the Country Briefs focus on the introduction of social protection policies and systems and their further development until today. The aim of the series is to give country and policy experts the opportunity to share their knowledge in a semi-structured format, to disseminate the information through the online open access publications, and to shed light on under-researched cases, in particular those found beyond high-income economies.

How did this series come about?

Gabriela de Carvalho: Within our project A04 on the Global Developments in Health Care Systems and Long-term Care as a New Social Risk (as well as the CRC as a whole), we are collecting a lot of data for instance on the introduction points of health and long-term care systems, their characteristics, and subsequent reforms. From this we have plenty of indicators which are stored in the CRC’s Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) and can be used by us and others for research. However, this information is contained into – mainly – categorical and numerical indicators. We have established the Country Brief Series to complement these datasets with more in-depth descriptions in a story-telling format and information that country experts or team members have accumulated. We thought that it would be a pity if this comprehensive knowledge about health and long-term care system beginnings and development would not be recorded and published. For the future it is planned that the Country Briefs will also be stored in WeSIS as an additional country-based resource.

What is the particular benefit of the series compared to existing social policy country profiles?

Johanna Fischer: There are several benefits of the CRC 1342 Social Policy Country Briefs which are not fully covered by other publication series. One is the explicit historical focus – in line with the CRC’s research agenda – on the initial introduction and further chronological development of social protection systems. Other publications do focus much more on providing a snapshot of the currently existing systems. However, we think it is important to contextualise current developments with a thorough understanding of their historical trajectories to understand why they look like as they do today and also for comparing countries at different stages of development.

Gabriela de Carvalho: We also emphasise the role of the state in health and long-term care systems, and the different ways in which this actor took responsibility for health and elder care. Even though we plan to publish briefs on all countries of the world, we particularly target under-researched cases from the Global South. Examples are the reports on the healthcare systems of Equatorial Guinea and Mozambique which are currently under review.

Gabriela, you have written the first issue of the series - what is the biggest challenge in such a report?

Gabriela de Carvalho: The biggest challenge in writing such a report is, I would say, the 'novelty' of the content. As here at the CRC we have an explicit interest in historical developments and the role of the state in social policies, our country briefs shed light on these topics, which is different from existing descriptions of social policies. Therefore, a historical analysis and reflection of each case is necessary before producing the report.

There are also conceptual challenges: For instance, experts have different ways to measure and operationalise what a system is, and when a system starts. This requires an open and constant dialogue between the editors of the series (the A04 project) and the authors.

Further, data availability differs greatly among countries. Authors often need to slightly adapt the provided template to accommodate for issues of data availability and reliability.

How do you choose the topics of the issues (policy field and country)?

Johanna Fischer: At the moment we are working on the both policy fields covered by our project, that is health and long-term care. As for the countries, we have started mostly with the ones where we had an established contact to potential authors for instance because they had participated in our expert surveys already. Furthermore, we tried to cover a diverse set of countries situated in different regions. Our aim is explicitly to cover cases outside the standard Northern/Western country samples often analysed, even though we are of course happy to also include reports on the more well-known cases. For long-term care, for instance, many reports have so far focused on the long-standing members of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development or the European Union. We are therefore happy that we were already able to extend this sample, for instance with the Country Briefs on Uruguay, Costa Rica, Taiwan, Singapore, Ukraine, and Serbia.

Gabriela de Carvalho: In the case of healthcare, reports on countries such as Jamaica, Mozambique, Albania, and Mexico have already been published or are currently under review.

Will the series cover other policy fields in the future as well?

Johanna Fischer: We are open to extend the series to other policy fields. In the future we would therefore like to more closely collaborate with other CRC projects to make this happen.


Contact:
Gabriela de Carvalho
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57078
E-Mail: decarvalho@uni-bremen.de

Johanna Fischer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57074
E-Mail: johanna.fischer@uni-bremen.de

Gabriela de Carvalho, Jakob Henninger
Gabriela de Carvalho, Jakob Henninger
De Carvalho studied the role of global actors in shaping health systems in the Global South, Henninger the interplay of immigration and social policy in authoritarian regimes.

Gabriela de Carvalho's thesis is titled "The role of global actors in shaping healthcare systems: Advancing analytical frameworks to better portray the empirical reality of Global South countries" and was graded "magna cum laude".

The primary aim of her dissertation is to analyse the role global actors play in shaping healthcare systems in Global South countries in order to advance typological work to better portray the empirical manifestations of healthcare systems worldwide, especially in middle and low income nations. My dissertation consists of three papers: The first study empirically examines whether and how IOs, more precisely the World Bank (WB), influence the (legal) foundations of healthcare systems in the nations of the Global South (Article A). The second investigation consists of a systematic literature review of the scholarship on healthcare system typologies to verify whether existing frameworks (a) take into account the increasing role global actors play in healthcare system arrangements, and (b) are able to portray the universe of healthcare systems worldwide, with a special focus on LMICs (Article B). Finally, a conceptual and analytical framework of healthcare systems to display and compare arrangements is proposed, taking into consideration the particularities of Global South systems (Article C).

Article A:
de Carvalho, G. (2021). The World Bank and healthcare reforms: A cross-national analysis of policy prescriptions in South America. Social Inclusion (in press).

Article B:
de Carvalho, G., Schmid, A., & Fischer, J. (2021). Classifications of healthcare systems: Do existing typologies reflect the particularities of the Global South? Global Social Policy, 21(2), 278–300. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468018120969315

Article C:
Frisina Doetter, L., Schmid, A., de Carvalho, G., & Rothgang, H. (2021). Comparing apples to oranges? Minimising typological biases to better classify healthcare systems globally. Health Policy OPEN, 2, 1–8. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.hpopen.2021.100035

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Jakob Henninger's doctoral thesis is entitled "The Politics of Immigration and Social Protection in Electoral-Authoritarian Regimes" and was graded "summa cum laude" (examination committee: Susanne K. Schmidt, Friederike Römer, Christian Joppke, Heiko Pleines, Patrick Sachweh, Johanna Kuhlmann).

Jakob Henninger's findings include:

  • Concerns about immigration are more likely to lead to an increase in demand for social security in authoritarian regimes than in democracies.
  • Questions in parliament are also a means for opposition MPs to criticise the government's immigration policy in electoral authoritarian regimes.
  • In electoral authoritarian regimes, the goals and actions of civil society organisations advocating for immigrants' rights are significantly weaker than in democratic states.


A paper on which the thesis is based has already been published:
Choose your battles: How civil society organisations choose context-specific goals and activities to fight for immigrant welfare rights in Malaysia and Argentina, with Friederike Römer (2021) in Social Policy & Administration. Two further papers are existing as manuscripts.


Contact:
Gabriela de Carvalho
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57078
E-Mail: decarvalho@uni-bremen.de

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

For his outstanding work in comparative welfare state research, the University of Southern Denmark has awarded the spokesperson of CRC 1342 the title of honorary doctor.

"Herbert Obinger is a world-leading expert in comparative welfare research," says Jens Ringsmose, who became rector of the University of Southern Denmark (SDU) at the beginning of November, explaining the award. "Obinger also has a close connection to SDU: he was a part-time professor here from 2012 to 2015 and has continued to collaborate with colleagues since then."

"I was stunned, but I am very grateful for this honorate doctorate," says Herbert Obinger. "It is also an incentive to continue and to deepen our cooperation with the SDU."


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

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

The co-director of project A04 was invited to the podcast run by the City College of New York to talk about health care systems in the Global North and South, global trends and challenges doing research on these topics.

Rights Talk is a City College of New York podcast that addresses current human rights challenges around the world. The podcast invites critical perspectives and questions the future of rights in the twenty-first century.

Lorraine Frisina Doetter, co-director of the CRC project A04 Global Developments in Health Care Systems and Long-term Care as a New Social Risk spoke on the podcast about health care around the world and challenges in comparative health care systems research.

Among other topics, Frisina Doetter touched on topics like health care as a human right, global trends challenging healthcare systems around the world, the inefficiencies of the Us healthcare system and its resistance to change.

Frisina Doetter also presented the work being done at CRC 1342 and the challenges of doing comparative healthcare systems research on a global level: (1) the availability of data, especially historic data on healthcare in the Global Sout, and (2) How to arrive at concepts that can be universally applicable and still meaningful. "Most scholars have a very specific understanding of a health care system with doctors and nurses trained in biological studies as the core", Frisina Doetter says. Other actors are being neglected as well as so called alternative medicine, which is a functional equivalent in many societies. "These and other functional equivalence should not be missed/neglected in our research. We need to develop concepts that capture that in our comparisons. In order to do this, we need to examine our normative and epistemic biases."

Listen to the episode of Rights Talk:
The Right to Health in Comparative Perspective: the WHO, North-South Systems, and Transnational Interdependencies with Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter


Contact:
Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58561
E-Mail: frisina@uni-bremen.de

It was the first CRC 1342 event with international guests in Bremen since the the first lockdown in the pandemic.

On Friday, October 8, 2021, the CRC project A05 hosted an international workshop on "Developments and Changes in Education Systems across Global 'Cultural Spheres'" in Bremen. The event took place in a hybrid format with about 20 participants present on the scene. For the CRC 1342 it was the first workshop since the beginning of the pandemic that was attended by international guests in Bremen.

The workshop was structured in four slots, focussing on Education policies and reforms, School autonomy, Expertise and skills, as well as Education and culture. Each of the nine presentation was followed by an in-depth feedback by a discussant and an open discussion with the audience.

Patricia Bromley (et al.) from Stanford University looked at global causes for education reforms worldwide by analyzing the changing role of the World Bank and International Non-Governmental Organizations (INGOs) in 147 countries between 1960 and 2017. In this period, Bromley found a sharp drop in the levels of national education reforms. She also found evidence of changing power dynamics: The influence of World Bank loans in promoting education reform declined over time, while the influence of INGOs grew.

Fabian Besche-Truthe, Helen Seitzer and Michael Windzio (all CRC 1342) presented their concept of Cultural Spheres and their influence on the diffusion of compulsory education around the world.  Countries can be tied by sharing a multitude of cultural characteristics, defined by a variety of variables like dominant religion(s), dominant language, colonial history, gender relations, or civil freedom. The result is a fuzzy typology of cultural spheres. The authors’ hypothesis is that the introduction and configuration of state education correspond to world regions and cultural spheres. And in line with this expectation, makro-statistical analysis of the introduction dates of compulsory education shows that cultural spheres considerably mediate the diffusion of compulsory education.

Michael Windzio (CRC 1342) then presented the results of an explorative study on the effects of culture on the gender gap in education, i.e. the probability of women getting only little/low level education. By drawing on the World Value Survey and on its data on secular and emancipative data in particular, Windzio defines eight country classes. His statistical analysis shows that “culture matters” for the gender education gap – countries belonging to the traditional religious class show a higher tendency towards low education, and women in these countries are considerably disadvantaged.

Gerard Ferrer and Antoni Verger (both Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona) looked at school autonomy and accountability. According to their findings, market-oriented accountability systems tend to have higher levels of autonomy. There is some evidence on the convergence of certain policies of school autonomy and accountability at the level of practice: there seems to be evidence of convergence of school autonomy policies (staff, school budget and curriculum) and robust evidence of convergence of autonomy policies on school admission, derived from an increase of the selection practices based on the students’ record.

Michael Dobbins (University of Konstanz) and Dennis Niemann (CRC 1342) introduced a refined approach to look at school autonomy by presenting four ideal-types of school autonomy: the civic participation model, the school competition model, the professional (teacher) self-steering model, and the hierarchical (school management) self- steering model. As an example of how to use their ideal types, Dobbins and Niemann calculated the relationship between the school autonomy constellation in European countries and each country’s PISA performance.

Manuel Souto-Otero (Cardiff University) and Piotr Bialowoski (Harvard University) presented their research on how skills prioritisation and conceptions of education (narrow vs. broad) vary by social class. They found that (1) class differences exist and (2) that those in the middle classes prioritise different sets of skills than individuals in the working class and they also conceive education in a broader way, e.g. opportunities to learn are more often associated with non-formal and informal learning contexts.

Aaron Benavot (University at Albany-SUNY) has explored regional and variation over time in school knowledge and textbook content in primary and secondary education and discussed the cultural underpinnings of such variation. Jane Gingrich (University of Oxford) presented on the politics of differentiation reforms in secondary education, and Gita Steiner Khamsi (Columbia University/Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies) on evidence and expertise in educational politics.

Each presentation was followed by an in-depth feedback by a discussant and an open discussion with the audience.


Contact:
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67498
E-Mail: martensk@uni-bremen.de

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

Dr. Stephen Devereux
Dr. Stephen Devereux
The Mercator Fellow at CRC 1342 is investigating the influence of so-called "policy pollinators" on the spread of social protection in Africa.

Stephen Devereux, Mercator Fellow at the CRC 1342, presented his current research project in an online workshop on Thursday, in which he is investigating the role of international organisations, aid organisations and, in particular, individuals (advisors) in the dissemination of social protection programmes in Africa.

Devereux has identified 30 so-called policy pollinators, i.e. individuals who have been decisive in shaping the spread of social protection in Africa. So far, Devereux has interviewed 23 of them.

Among other things, Devereux asked his interviewees when and how social protection was introduced in Africa. The policy pollinators pointed to isolated pre-colonial and colonial programmes in Africa, but it is only since the 2000s that social protection programmes have been implemented in a large number of African countries. It was interesting to note that the term "social protection" was first coined by the Austrian Robert Holzmann, who was the World Bank's Sector Director Social Protection and Labor in the late 1990s.

The most "successful" policy pollinator, on the other hand, according to Devereux's interviewees, was Bernd Schubert, a German policy consultant who has worked for several development agencies. Schubert advocated focusing social protection on the poorest segments of the population and was a key player in introducing such programmes in Mozambique, Malawi, Liberia, Zimbabwe and Ethiopia. Although social protection and especially cash transfer programmes were considered unsuitable means of development cooperation by the German Ministry for Economic Cooperation, Bernd Schubert succeeded in obtaining funds for a pilot project in Mozambique in 1989. Ten years later, he managed to do something similar in Zambia, where he used funding to fight AIDS for a cash transfer programme.

Later in the presentation, Devereux used his interviews to show how controversial the choice of Social Protection's target group is among policy pollinators. While some advocate concentrating funds on the poorest segments of the population, others seek to include the entire population.

Devereux concluded by pointing out two dilemmas: On the one hand, the interviews contain a lot of information and anecdotes that are to be treated confidentially, i.e. they can hardly be used for scientific analysis. In addition, the interviews include sections that contain derogatory statements about countries and individuals, which makes their publication problematic. On the other hand, Stephen Devereux himself was named by his interview partners as an important policy polinator in the field of social protection, since he has been publishing on the topic since the early 2000s. Devereux is still searching for an answer to the question of how he deals with this circumstance.

Stephen Devereux will publish the results of his work in a monograph that will be part of the "Global Dynamics of Social Policy" series edited by SFB 1342 and published by Palgrave Macmillan.


Contact:
Dr. Stephen Devereux
Library Road
BN1 9RE Brighton
Phone: +44 1273 915802
E-Mail: s.devereux@ids.ac.uk