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.

CRC member Ulrich Mückenberger paid tribute to the scholar of law Éliane Vogel-Polsky at a memorial service in Brussels. Mückenberger was invited as a representative of European labour law.

Ulrich Mückenberger spoke in Brussels on 19 February 2020 at the memorial service for the great European law scholar Éliane Vogel-Polsky. Born in 1926 and died in 2015, Vogel-Polsky was one of the great figures in European labour law. She was a professor, lawyer, human rights campaigner, feminist and passionate European. Ulrich Mückenberger worked with her on and published, among other things, the document "Manifesto Social Europe" (2001).

In her honour, the Université Libre de Bruxelles organised a colloquium with friends and colleagues of Éliane Vogel-Polsky. Mückenberger was invited as a representative of European labour law.

More about the event on the website of the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

Prof. Dr. Ulrich Mückenberger
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Faculty of Law
Universitätsallee, GW1
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-66218

Dr. Irene Dingeldey with students at the Federal Foreign Office
Dr. Irene Dingeldey with students at the Federal Foreign Office
With the support of CRC 1342, Irene Dingeldey and Master students travelled to Berlin for three days. They participated in workshops with the ILO and the German Foreign Office.

Together with students from the course "Collective and Indivdiual Labour Rights" from the Master's programme in Social Policy, CRC member Irene Dingeldey travelled to the Federal Foreign Office and the ILO branch in Berlin. They participated in workshops from 15-17 January.

The main focus was on the exchange between practitioners and academics, the application of theory and empirical findings to practice, and the demonstration of the process of norm-setting and implementation using the example of Germany.

PD Dr. Irene Dingeldey
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute Labour and Economy
Wiener Straße 9 / Ecke Celsiusstraße
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-61710

SFB members Kressen Thyen and Alex Veit will chair Section 39 at the 14th Pan-European Conference on International Relations.

Call for Papers: "The Politics of Internationalised Welfare" (S39)

European International Studies Association (EISA), 14th Pan-European Conference on International Relations, Msida, Malta, September 16 – 19, 2020

Proposal submission deadline: March 16, 2020
Section chairs: Alex Veit & Kressen Thyen (University of Bremen)

The call for papers is now open for "The Politics of Internationalised Welfare", Section 39 at the EISA-PEC, 16-19 September 2020.
Section 39: The Politics of Internationalised Welfare

In recent years, students of International Relations have increasingly paid attention to internationalised welfare as a relevant field of study. In contrast to the traditional welfare literature, which conceptualises social policy primarily as a domestic issue, this new branch of scholarship emphasises the influence and impact of global dynamics and international actors on social needs and welfare provision. However, different areas of international engagement, such as global health, social protection, or humanitarian aid, are often treated as separate fields of study.
In this section, we aim to bring these fields together and to analyse the fundamental questions linking them: How do international political structures—from colonialism to global governance—impact on welfare states around the globe? What influence do international and transnational actors have on the design, finance and provision of welfare systems? Which ideas and interests drive international involvement in welfare provision?

From the "age of empires" to the contemporary multilateral world, international authorities and actors have addressed social inequality, political grievances and environmental risks in different ways. This section seeks to highlight changes and continuities of internationalised welfare. It is therefore structured in a historical order that connects the past, present, and future.

With this call we are inviting paper proposals in particular relating to the following panels:

  • Imperial, Late Imperial and Post-Imperial Welfare Politics in the Global South
  • Welfare in the Post-colony: Between Popular Contention, Statebuilding and Internationalisation
  • Beyond Capital IR – Studying Social Questions in the Countryside
  • Climate Change and Poverty: Vulnerable Populations, Human Security & Social Justice

A more detailed description of the intended panels follows below.
Please submit your paper proposal through the EISA-PEC online platform. Submission guidelines are available here:

We look forward to receiving your proposals and to seeing you in Msida!
Alex & Kressen

Imperial, Late Imperial and Post-Imperial Welfare Politics in the Global South
Panel Chair: Roy Karadağ

This panel targets the imperial sources of internationalised welfare. It aims to bring together scholars who investigate and critically reflect upon the ideas, policy measures and practices of empires in identifying, problematizing and dealing with poverty, social crises and contestations from excluded groups across global peripheries. What were the features of this imperial wave of global social policy? Under which conditions did imperial politicians, bureaucrats and academics engage with teaching, healing and nurturing subject populations in colonies and protectorates? In which ways were these policies and practices themselves transformed in the late imperial years after the Second World War? What were the overall consequences for social policy making after decolonisation had finally materialised?
Organised around this set of questions, contributions ideally bridge the gap between themes of dependent development and the politics of empire, on the one hand, and of welfare statism and social policy, on the other hand. In particular, the goal is to theorise what the "imperial" is in "imperial social policy and welfare". Geographically, we invite papers that cover African, Middle Eastern and Asian contexts of imperial rule. With regard to policy fields, papers may cover anything from education, health, food, labour, pensions, housing and social assistance schemes. Contributions may render the multi-sited and multi-causal nature of imperial policy making visible, for example by investigating the various imperial justifications of policies and regulations, and the contestations they produced both within and beyond the respective imperial institutions.

Welfare in the Post-colony: Between Popular Contention, Statebuilding and Internationalisation
Panel Chairs: Kressen Thyen & Alex Veit

This panel interrogates postcolonial welfare states in the Global South as processes and products of entanglement between domestic and transnational political configurations.
On the national level, public welfare connects state organizations and social groups. It may increase state legitimacy, but also trigger new demands. It addresses social inequality, but also manifests group privileges. It symbolises nationhood and provides vision, but also exposes gaps between ambition and implementation. Geographically, welfare bureaucracies embody the state in the most remote village, but also reproduce urban-rural divides. Welfare administrative knowledge is the backbone of planning for the public good, but such data can also be used as a tool of control and repression. In sum, welfare provision creates colourful, often contradictory bonds between states and populations.
At the same time, welfare states of the Global South are transnational configurations. The design, finance, and provision of welfare is a transnational process in which international organisations, bilateral donors, transnational NGOs, religious organisations and expert communities are centrally involved. While such international involvement arguably creates a "global social policy" in its infancy, it also renders concepts of sovereignty, citizenship, democracy, accountability, entitlement, and durability highly precarious. This fundamentally puts into question previous assumptions on welfare state formation.
To address these processes of entanglement between transnational and domestic configurations, we invite papers addressing or relating to the following questions: How can we conceptualise welfare in the Global South? How does internationalisation impact on everyday patterns of legitimation and contestation? In what ways did neoliberalism and structural adjustments disrupt postcolonial welfare politics? Where do countervailing ideas emerge against dominant welfare approaches?

Beyond Capital IR – Studying Social Questions in the Countryside
Panel Chairs: Klaus Schlichte & Anna Wolkenhauer

A lot is going on in the countryside. In recent years, Sociology, Development Studies and Political Science have paid renewed attention to rural areas for a number of reasons. Deteriorating food security, increasingly frequently felt impacts of climate change, and a growing awareness of sustainability issues have put farmers back at the centre of attention.
Practices like land-grabbing, the depletion of natural resources, food insecurity or huge gaps in public service delivery seem to fuel forms of opposition that have hitherto rather been ignored by “capital IR”. This panel aims at interrogating social questions that specifically address rural areas, rural populations and internationalised politics targeting them. This can include social policies, rural development, food policies or other schemes geared by “the will to improve” (Tanya Li). While locally effective, state and non-state policies are embedded in a global system of development initiatives, governance structures, trade rules, and political representation more widely. We are convinced that IR is well-advised not to ignore the connections between rural change and international structures – historical and contemporary.
This panel invites contributions related to the following or related questions: How are structural transformations in the countryside addressed by (internationalised) welfare? How have state retrenchment and a neoliberal redefinition of social policy affected rural areas? How are social and political questions related in the countryside; do welfare and political representation interact? What potential do food security interventions hold for social inclusion and transformation?

Climate Change and Poverty: Vulnerable Populations, Human Security & Social Justice

Panel Chair: Simon Chin-Yee

Climate change plays an increasingly important role in discussions of poverty, human security and socio-economic risks. Vulnerable populations are increasingly susceptible to weather shocks, desertification, sea level rise and conflicts which can lead to poverty traps. Sustained eradication of poverty will depend on many socio-economic conditions, including access to health care, education and economic growth. Climate change impacts on poverty exponentially as vulnerable populations are more exposed to its effects and have less capacity to adapt or react to natural disasters. Additionally, climate change is increasingly seen as a threat multiplier further exacerbating impacts on human security. These are human rights and climate justice issues.
This panel seeks to examine how changing environmental conditions are impacting vulnerable populations with an eye to the future, answering questions such as: How can vulnerable communities avoid falling into the poverty trap? How do populations cope when experiencing negative shocks in multiple channels simultaneously? What responsibility does the global climate regime have to address issues of human rights and vulnerable populations? To what extent are climate related risks addressed by internationalised social policy-making?


Section Chairs are Alex Veit ( and Kressen Thyen (, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies (InIIS), CRC Global Dynamics of Social Policy, University of Bremen, Germany.

For further information related to the submission process please contact

Dr. Kressen Thyen
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67488

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

Franziska Deeg, Dr. Sarah Berens
Franziska Deeg, Dr. Sarah Berens
Sarah Berens and Franziska Deeg of project B03 look back on their surveys in Mexico and Brazil and reveal first results.

Your data collection has already taken place a little while ago: Where did you conduct your survey in Brazil and Mexico and who did you interview?

Franziska Deeg: In Mexico we conducted the survey in two states: Puebla and Querétaro. In Brazil we were in the state of Sao Paulo. Both surveys were household surveys with a representative sample. So we interviewed randomly selected people, both in the city and in the countryside.

And how many were there in each case?

Deeg: In Mexico there were 1400 respondents and in Brazil 1008.

What exactly did you want to find out?

Sarah Berens: We are interested in the social policy preferences of the Mexican and Brazilian population. We are investigating the influence of changes in economic and trade relations between countries on normal, average citizens and their social policy preferences.

How did you do this?

Berens: We have studied the phenomenon in different ways. First we asked: Do you want the state to further develop the pension system? Or the health system? Should the state spend more money on this? We asked about different policy areas within social policy: attitudes towards pensions, expansion of the health care and education systems. And also about conditional cash transfers such as Progresa in Mexico and Bolsa Familia in Brazil. We also asked more general questions, such as to what extent the respondent is in favour of more or less redistribution. And about their tax preferences: progressive income taxes, yes or no? This battery of questions allows us to examine respondents' attitudes to the welfare state from a variety of perspectives.

Deeg: In Mexico we also conducted a conjoint analysis as part of the survey. The respondents are specifically offered a policy design that varies in its design (expansion versus reduction of the program; who should have access, e.g. only formal employees or everyone; how should the program be financed, tax increase for the rich or e.g. exclusively through contributions). We ask to what extent the respondent likes this concrete policy design or would prefer to support the alternative proposal shown. He or she should then assess how well he or she liked offer A compared to offer B. Not only the design but also the analysis is now very exciting.

Did your questions differ between Mexico and Brazil?

Berens: We kept one group of questions the same so that we could compare both cases. That was important to us. The very concrete conjoint analysis on the design of social policy was very specific to Mexico. For Brazil, we designed different experiments that shed light on our big question about the influence of economic interdependence on social policy preferences in different ways, so that we have different ways of looking at the phenomenon to be explained.

Your data analysis is not yet complete, but are there already first results?

Berens: A manuscript paper already exists from the data on Mexico. We are studying economic interdependence via the labour market and migration. At the time when we were in Mexico, a great many people from Central America moved to the USA through Mexico. This is one of the issues that we asked about as part of the survey. Economic interdependence is not just trade, but also has very specific implications for the labour market through labour migration between Mexico, the USA as a strong trading partner and as a major economic power, and the other Central American countries such as Honduras or Nicaragua, which are considerably poorer. Our first paper deals with this influence of different types of migration on social policy preferences in Mexico. The argument is somewhat complex. We examine specifically the influence of two groups: refugees from Central America and returnees, i.e. Mexican migrants who have worked in the US for a while and then come back to Mexico to enter the labour market. We contrast the influence of these two groups and ask: Do they have different effects on social policy preferences for different groups within Mexico? Interestingly, it turns out that the refugees from Central America play no role in this respect: We do not see any strong effects, especially among the poorer sections of the population, who in fact should feel particularly under pressure and perceive the refugees as competitors in the labour market. Rather, it is the better educated Mexicans, the richer ones, who react sensitively to the returnees from the USA. The returnees are competitors for the well-educated because they acquired better skills in the USA. And anyway, people who go to the USA are on average a little more educated or better educated. When this group comes back, we see a greater impact on welfare state preferences among Mexicans.

And what do the better educated Mexicans want when they see that many migrants return from the US?

Berens: Less welfare state. That the cake gets smaller or limited. That only those Mexicans living in Mexico who are in the formal labor market have access to social policy programs, such as pensions. There is a shift towards more exclusion, away from solidarity. The interesting thing is that this attitude is directed against those who are actually Mexicans. It is not so much the Central American foreigners that bother them, but their fellow countrymen who went to the USA and left Mexico behind for a while and would now like to have a pension.

Deeg: Especially the formally employed are more opposed to the returnees, because those have not paid into the social security system and would still like to have access to it. The question of solidarity arises: You were in the USA and worked there. And now you are coming back and you have a good chance of finding formal employment on the labour market, because you are in any case relatively better educated than other parts of the population. And then you should still not have access to social goods.

Does that also apply to health insurance?

Berens: In Mexico the health system has been reformed and is now universal. Even people who haven't paid for their health care have access to it. The pension system, on the other hand, is based on contributions; only those who have paid in receive benefits. That's the exciting thing about our project: by looking at different policy areas that differ in accessibility for different groups, we can observe: Where is this about solidarity or exclusion?

Deeg: This is exactly why the argument in the paper is so complex, because we are looking at two groups of migrants - the refugees and the returnees. And then in Mexico we differentiate between the formally and informally employed and according to skill level. Then there are different types of social benefits, which are accessable in different ways for different groups. All this makes the point relatively complex.

How about Brazil?

Berens: There we are still stuck in huge mountains of data. We have not yet gotten around to analyzing it. For the second half of the project we will analyze this data, evaluate different experiments and compare the results with those we have found in Mexico.

Deeg: Brazil is also very interesting in terms of trade policy. Mexico is very dependent on the USA, Brazil is a little bit diversified, although there is a dependence on China for example. In any case, there are interesting dynamics, especially because the type of exports from both countries is different. That's why it's definitely exciting to take a closer look at this.

Did you also have a special perspective in Brazil, as in the case of Mexico, where you specifically looked at migration?

Berens: We also looked at migration in Brazil, because we saw that it plays such a big role in Mexico and we wanted to have the opportunity to make a statement on this with the Brazilian data. But migration in Brazil is quite different. The group of migrants that plays a stronger role comes mainly from Venezuela. And then there is a smaller group of Haitians who are driven out of Haiti by poverty and state failure and who are perceived in a predominantly negative way in Brazil.

Deeg: We also look at domestic migration. Many people from the north of Brazil migrate to the south because there are more jobs there. These internal migrants are also perceived very negatively in the cities. The question is raised whether these migrants should have access to social benefits or not. Which puts solidarity within the country to the test.

Dr. Sarah Berens
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Cologne Center for Comparative Politics
Herbert-Lewin-Str. 2
50931 Köln
Phone: +49 221 470-2853

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

Prof. Dr. Delia Gonzáles de Reufels
Prof. Dr. Delia Gonzáles de Reufels
Interview with Delia González de Reufels on the protests against the Chilean government and the first results of her research visits to Santiago de Chile.

For a very long time Chile was regarded as a very stable and economically successful country. But suddenly there are mass protests and violence, especially by the security forces. How did this happen?

The current trigger was an increase in public transport prices. This may seem incomprehensible, but Chile already has the most expensive transport system in South America. In addition, in the metropolitan region of Santiago with its eight million inhabitants, the distances are very long. Not everyone can live where they work. The transport system is therefore used by many on a daily basis and a considerable part of their income is spent on this alone. After all, who uses public transport? Chileans with top incomes, of which there are many, are not dependent on it. There are a lot of people with small and middle incomes in the Santiago area and the price increase hits them very hard. But the dissatisfaction is also directed against the lack of socio-political interest of the current government, which in its second term of office has no new visions for a more socially just Chile. This has disappointed many who had hoped for initiatives in core areas such as pensions, education, health care and health insurance.

Despite the country's great economic success, if you look at the macro data, not all sections of the population seem to have benefited. Or why is it that many parts of the population are so poor?

This is an interesting finding. At the macro level, Chile is a very rich and prosperous country, it is an OECD member and has been spared major economic crises. But in the end you have to ask yourself who is actually benefiting from these developments. A very large part of the population generates only a minimum income and has to bear rising costs for local transport, rent and heating. Water supply is also expensive. Chile also has to bear many economic consequences of the military junta's policy, which came to power in 1973 through a bloody coup. For example, energy companies can raise the price of heating oil in winter. These are the results of the economic reforms that took place during the dictatorship and that were not revoked afterwards. This has led to great inequalities. Large sections of the population have the impression that they struggle but do not participate in the country's prosperity. This rage has now unloaded and is unlikely to subside as quickly.

What does the Chilean social system look like? Can't it absorb poverty?

As one of the pioneers of social policy, Chile developed and implemented many measures very early on. But it also downscaled and withdrew programmes and redefined who benefited from these measures. Even though there have been many new socio-political interventions, the military dictatorship continues to have an effect here as well. Because politics has never really devoted itself to poverty reduction, Chile - like many other Latin American countries - has many poor people. Poverty was condoned and therefore persisted.

How do you explain that? Since the military dictatorship was not dependent on the masses to be elected? Because you could ignore them?

Yes, and because, on the one hand, the military dictatorship has made clientele politics and, on the other, it has opened itself to neo-liberalism and reformed the economy accordingly. The argument that a dictatorship can carry out efficient reforms because it does not have to assure itself of the voters' approval and coordinate processes in parliament etc. also played a role here. As a result, people have been left behind. Although the country stands out on the macroeconomic level by South American standards and is considered very stable, it has been fermenting below the surface for a long time. Despite everything, the country is still very attractive, with many immigrants coming from neighbouring Spanish-speaking countries. Chile has also recorded an influx from Haiti in recent years, which is predominantly male and very noticeable in Santiago. The Afro-Caribbean population has not been found in Chile until recently. The country is also now confronted with the challenge of offering Spanish as a foreign language, which up to now has not had to be taken into account in immigration. The country is not prepared for this, and many Chileans are critical of this new immigration.

With regard to your research, you were now on site yourself and did research in archives. What did you find there?

I was in the National Library in Santiago, which has excellent collections from the 19th century, which is the time I also consider in my research. I was also in the National Archives, which houses a variety of relevant sources. In the archives, I tried above all to get an idea of the socio-political ideas of key actors, to read their publications, and to get acquainted with those with whom they exchanged ideas. I was able to close important gaps and also work with serial sources that are important for my research interests. For example, journals, but also individual works that cannot be found in the National Library in Spain either.

What kind of journals are these?

For example, I have worked a lot with a specialist journal for Chilean doctors. The doctors got together very early and founded a journal in Santiago based on the European model. Chile is still a strongly centralised country, and at that time there was only one medical training centre: the Escuela de Medicina at the University of Santiago. All medical graduates therefore knew each other and wanted their own journal to communicate what was going on in Chile and other countries, what was published in European journals and above all to discuss what Chilean medicine was doing and how the country's medical education should be changed. So scientific as well as disciplinary interest was brought into this medium. The exciting thing for me is that this journal became such an important forum for the exchange of doctors. The role of medicine in society was also discussed here. This journal still exists today, but with a clear focus on scientific topics. It has been published without interruption, even during the time of the military dictatorship, and has become a place where doctors have negotiated what needs to be improved in Chile in order for people to be healthier. These considerations have also been incorporated into the country's social policy instruments.

Can you predict the first results of your research project on Chile?

Yes, in the field of social policy we are dealing with actors who we also encounter in Europe, but who, in the absence of other actors in Chile, are becoming more important and are taking different paths.

You mean, the doctors?

Yes, they didn't make any progress with their demands and suggestions - so they got themselves elected to the congress and took office as members of parliament with the claim to make politics in their sense. In the congress, they themselves introduced proposals for laws and voted on them. This is something we see throughout the 20th century. Thus the later Chilean President Salvador Allende was a doctor, worked as a health minister and wrote 1939 with the volume "La Realidad Médico-Social Chilena" one of the important books about Chile's social problems. With this work Allende has politically distinguished himself. This is no coincidence, but the result of the great proximity of medicine to politics, which was established in Chile in the 19th century.

Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institut für Geschichtswissenschaft / FB 08
Universitäts-Boulevard 13
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67200