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.

Student Assistant for 10 hours per week

CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy is seeking to fill the following position:

Student Assistant for 10 hours per week

We are looking for a highly motivated, reliable, and detail-oriented student assistant, with the ability to work in a team and independently, to support research activities and dissemination of the Global Social Policy Digest. The Global Social Policy Digest accompanies each issue of the peer-reviewed journal Global Social Policy and provides an overview of global social policy developments through the lens of redistribution, regulation, and rights, changes in global social governance arrangements, and currently provides sector-specific updates in the areas of health, social protection, education, and environmental justice.

Tasks may vary, but will include scoping current global social policy developments (from UN agencies, prominent bilateral development agencies, and international non-governmental organizations among others), communicating with the editorial team of the GSP Digest, assembling drafts of the GSP Digest, and updating the GSP Digest website.

English skills are a must and prior experience working within an international organization and/or policy-oriented environment and in designing and updating webpages is a strong advantage, as is a demonstrated ability to problem-solve and work creatively.

Main tasks

  • Scope and organize online links to global social policy updates
  • Regular communication with the editorial team
  • Assembling drafts of the GSP Digest
  • Updating the global social policy website


Necessary qualifications

  • Good communication and English language skills
  • Excellent skills using Microsoft Word and managing track changes and comments to documents
  • Ability to work to deadlines


Desirable qualifications (not necessary)

  • Prior experience working within an international organization or policy-oriented environment
  • Prior experience designing and updating websites
    Demonstrated ability to problem-solve and work creatively


The position has an expected start date of 1 April 2020 and encompasses 10 working hours per week for six months, with the possibility of extension. Interviews for the position are expected to be held on 13 and 14 February 2020. This position offers the opportunity to further develop knowledge and skills acquired during your studies as well as a great working atmosphere within the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 on the Global Dynamics of Social Policy.

If you have any questions regarding the position, please contact Amanda Shriwise (

Please submit your application (CV, current transcript of records, and one-page letter of motivation) as a PDF document to the same email address by Monday, 3 February 2020.

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

The position is expected to be filled by 01 February 2020 and will last till end of June. The weekly working time is 5 hours or 20 hours per month.

The student assistant will be working directly for Dr. Frisina, as well as support the doctoral student, Alexander Polte, on dissertation related research.


  • Literature research and literature management
  • Translation of English language texts into German
  • Proof reading German language texts
  • Formatting manuscripts for publication
  • Assistance in editorial work for the CRC book series with Palgrave Macmillan
  • Administrative tasks such as the filling out of travel reimbursements
  • Assistance in data collection for qualitative research involving transcribing and coding
  • Assistance with the organization and implementation of workshops


  • Academic background in social policy, health and/or long term care policy is an advantage
  • Knowledge of literature management programs
  • Experience in researching and analysing academic literature
  • Native-level German language skills, strong knowledge of English, knowledge of Spanish is an advantage

Please send your application consisting of a short CV, and a current transcript of records as a pdf by 10 January 2020 to Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter at

Dr. Nils Düpont
Dr. Nils Düpont
Nils Düpont spent several weeks in Göteborg for project A01 in order to foster cooperation with the Swedish democracy research institute. In an interview, he tells us what he expects from it.

You were visiting scholar for some time during the summer at the V-Dem Institute in Gothenburg , which aims to measure democracy worldwide. Your stay in Gothenburg has resulted in a cooperation between our CRC and the V-Dem Institute. How did this come about?

One of my tasks at the CRC is to collect information on national and especially political variables. My personal interest is above all in the parties and their ideology or positions and the question of what influence this has on the introduction and spread of social policy. So far, there is little data that reaches back far or has a global scope. For this reason, I had begun to work with Holger Döring, a colleague at Philip Manow's chair, to collect data, first on election results and parties in all the countries we study at the CRC - from 1880 until today. Holger had been in contact with Anna Lührmann from the V-Dem team for some time. She is Deputy Director there and had initiated a new project where they wanted to go all the way to the party level in their investigation. It quickly became clear that the data that we had collected at the CRC, most of which had already been validated, was actually the basis for what V-Dem had in mind. And it was through this connection that the cooperation came about.

So what does the CRC contribute to the cooperation?

We provide information on elections, parties and election results from all over the world since 1880. These data form the basis for the V-Party project. And on the basis of this data it is also controlled for which parties and which year the V-Dem experts subsequently receive questions about the parties, their ideology and their organizational characteristics.

And what does the CRC get?

The decisive thing is that this is the first time that we will receive information about parties' ideology or some organizational characteristics that have not yet been the focus of party research. In party research, too, we have a relatively strong OECD bias - similar to the social policy research of the CRC. Latin America is still relatively well covered. But as soon as you look at Africa or Asia, it becomes scarcer with expertise, information and analyses. And the nice thing about V-Dem is that they have this global network of experts, that the survey has been running for a few years now and that we also get to work with experts who assess parties for which we still have little or no information. This information helps us to assess the parties ideologically in the first place. And together with the information we collect about, for example, strength in parliament, independent variables can then be created for social policy research and the question: What influence do parties have on the introduction or expansion of social policy? In sum, we get information back for the CRC, which we can test as variables in the style of partisan politics.

What did you actually do in Gothenburg at V-Dem?

Essentially, we discussed a few things conceptually and harmonized the data we had collected so far. We then sent these preliminary data to country and regional experts for a validation check. All in all, we were able to lay the first foundation on which we are now building.

Who did you work with in Gothenburg?

Essentially with Anna Lührmann, who also heads the V-Party project. V-Party is based on V-Dem, the methodology and the whole setup. The special thing about it is that V-Dem has always been based on a macro-quantitative country/year logic and that V-Party is the first project that looks into countries, one level lower. This, of course, brings with it its own difficulties in collecting data. But the time was ripe to try it. Anna Lührmann as project manager is the central figure that also holds the network of experts together.

What can we expect from the survey?

The preparation for the survey is now entering the hot phase. After the plausibility check and validation by the regional experts had been completed, we incorporated the feedback and practically finalised the data collection. At the same time, the technical stack is being set up so that the survey can be rolled out in January. The last experts are currently being recruited for this purpose. They can then log on to a web platform and see the relevant information. It is therefore very important that the raw data is correct so that the coder can see what is right and what can be done with it. If all goes well, the survey should be completed in January. Then the usual process begins for the V-Dem people: data cleansing and preparation. We hope that in spring of next year the data will be ready so that initial analyses can be made. And that we will then learn a little more about parties in the world about which we know little or nothing.

Dr. Nils Düpont
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-57060

Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens, Prof. Dr. Marianne Ulriksen, Sharla Plant, Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter, Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
Prof. Dr. Kerstin Martens, Prof. Dr. Marianne Ulriksen, Sharla Plant, Dr. Lorraine Frisina Doetter, Prof. Dr. Delia González de Reufels
In a workshop with publisher Sharla Plant the editorial board finalised its plan for the next 18 months and developed ideas for further volumes.

At the beginning of December, the editors of the new CRC Palgrave Macmillan book series "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", Lorraine Frisina Doetter, Delia González de Reufels, Kerstin Martens and Marianne Ulriksen met with Palgrave publisher Sharla Plant in Bremen. It was jointly agreed that three volumes would be published next year:

  • Carina Schmitt (Ed.): Social Protection in the Global South
  • Lutz Leisering (Ed.): A Hundred Years of Social Security in Middle-Income Countries
  • Kerstin Martens, Dennis Niemann & Alexandra Kaasch (Ed.): International Organizations in Global Social Policy

Subsequently, the draft of an edited volume was discussed, which will tell a short history of socio-political turning points worldwide in about 40 short articles. The contributions are exclusively provided by members of CRC 1342 and are based on results of its 15 projects. The volume will be published in the first half of 2021.

After the editors had decided on a design for the Palgrave CRC series, Sharla Plant met in the afternoon with around a dozen authors who presented their ideas for further volumes in individual discussions. These ideas will be finalised in the coming months.

Dr. Stefan Giljum
Dr. Stefan Giljum
Stefan Giljum from the Vienna University of Economics and Business presented his database and analysis project on commodity flows and their ecological and social consequences.

Stefan Giljum from the Vienna University of Economics and Business has visited CRC 1342 to present his database and analysis project FINEPRINT. The aim of FINEPRINT is to generate knowledge that allows the connection between production and consumption behaviour (focus: "Global North") and the ecological and social consequences of resource extraction on site (focus: "Global South") to be analysed. Basically, global value chains are broken down into their material composition. The result is a growing database with disaggregated and georeferenced data.

In front of a larger audience, Giljum traced the paths of selected material flows from the point of resource extraction through production to the value-added segment in the consumer regions and analysed their ecological consequences at the point of raw material extraction (e.g. water scarcity, deforestation, land use). The subsequent discussion also focused on how these data enable analyses with regard to socio-economic effects. For the CRC members, a very interesting point of discussion was how subnational data can supplement the (inter)national perspective of the CRC.

In the morning, the A01 project had an internal meeting with Stefan Giljum. There he presented in detail the database and analysis project FINEPRINT, which is equipped with an ERC consolidator grant. This was followed by an intensive exchange of experiences on challenges and possible solutions in setting up large information systems such as WeSIS or the FINEPRINT database. In particular, the following points were discussed:

  • Handling copyrights when using existing data sets
  • Documentation and maintenance of your own databases
  • Implementation of the Open Source Principles
  • Data quality (e.g. validation, harmonisation)

It turned out that FINEPRINT is a good example for the construction of a database with excellent visualisations and possibilities for analysis, which WeSIS can use as orientation in some respects. During the discussion, some intersections between the projects emerged, which gave rise to ideas for future cooperation.

Prof. Dr. Ivo Mossig
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 / 421 / 218 67410

Dr. Olivier Burtin
Dr. Olivier Burtin
The historian Olivier Burtin from the LMU was a guest at the CRC 1342 and explained the generosity of veteran care as a result of numerous causal mechanisms.

At the beginning of November Olivier Burtin, historian at the Ludwig-Maximilians-University Munich, was a guest at the CRC 1342. Burtin gave a guest lecture at the Socium and took part in the conference "Causal Mechanisms in the Analysis of Social Policy Dynamics" on the following days.

Burtin investigates the development of the US-American social program, which exclusively favours war veterans and has an annual budget of about 220 billion US dollars. Burtin interpreted the social program for war veterans as the result of several causal mechanisms:

  • The USA was involved in many wars
  • The wars were fought almost exclusively outside the country, which hardly affected the civilian population, unlike the soldiers - this gap gives moral weight to the claims of the veterans
  • Veteran organizations are established and influential political forces
  • Social benefits for veterans have a long tradition
  • Until the middle of the 20th century, the US army consisted almost exclusively of white men, a group with great political weight
  • And, finally, politicians were reluctant to cut benefits for veterans so as not to jeopardize their chances of success in elections.


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

Workshop with international experts.
Workshop with international experts.
B06 members and other international experts discussed the transfer of social policy concepts from the OECD sphere to the post-Soviet region. The results of the workshop are to be published in "Global Social Policy".

The CRC research project B06 on "External reform models and internal debates on the new conceptualisation of social policy in the post-Soviet region" has organised an international workshop on "International knowledge transfer in social policy: The case of the post-Soviet region" on November 9, 2019.

With participants from the post-Soviet region as well as from Europe and North America, the workshop brought together experts from political science, economics, sociology and other relevant academic disciplines. It aimed to draw a more comprehensive picture of the influence of social policy concepts originating in the OECD world on reform processes in the post-Soviet region. The intensive discussions focused especially on the role that international actors play in this knowledge transfer and on the domestic evaluation of these social policy concepts. For this workshop, knowledge transfer has been understood as an open and multi-directional process with a strong discursive dimension.

The result of the workshop will be submitted to Global Social Policy for a special issue asking how the underlying social policy concepts are perceived and evaluated and in particular which role domestic political decision-makers and the public ascribe to Western reform models. At the same time, the special issue wants to look at a broad range of actors (not only at international governmental organizations, but also at relevant non-governmental organizations and international experts). Consequently, the focus of the analysis lies on the main actors during the (still ongoing) redesign of the post-Soviet welfare systems. The contributions for the proposed special issue come from different disciplinary traditions, but they converge in their basic focus on the international knowledge transfer and on the domestic evaluation of the related social policy concepts.

Prof. Dr. Heiko Pleines
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Research Centre for East European Studies
Klagenfurter Straße 8
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-69602


Open the Black Box

Prof. emer. Dr. Renate Mayntz
Prof. emer. Dr. Renate Mayntz
At a two-day conference, members of the CRC 1342 discussed with international colleagues how social policy phenomena can be explained using the concept of causal mechanisms.

Social science analyses based solely on the correlation of variables cannot fully explain complex social phenomena. The black box remains closed: It remains unclear how the result of a process actually comes about. Current approaches attempt to eliminate this deficit with "mechanism-based explanations". The aim of the conference organised by our CRC project B01 was to stimulate discussion on the characteristics of causal mechanisms and to establish a closer link between these concepts and the investigation of social policy developments.

The conference was attended by nearly 100 researchers, many of whom were significantly involved in the discussion on causal mechanisms. Keynote speeches were given by Renate Mayntz (Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies), Gary Goertz (University of Notre Dame) and James Mahoney (Northwestern University). Armando Barrientos (University of Manchester and currently Mercator Fellow at the CRC) built the bridge to social policy research with a lecture on the development of social insurance in Latin America.

The various sessions presented theoretical and methodological contributions to causal mechanisms, as well as case studies in which social policy developments in a number of countries are analysed using causal mechanisms. Finally, the plenary session dealt with the question of whether a "toolbox" of causal mechanisms could be put together that could be used for the analysis of social phenomena. Johanna Kuhlmann and Frank Nullmeier (CRC 1342) focused their presentation on an actor-centred variant of causal mechanisms and approached the question of a toolbox by distinguishing between elementary and complex causal mechanisms. Peter Starke (University of Southern Denmark) discussed the question of a toolbox using the example of mechanisms from diffusion literature.