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.

Students have the opportunity to be involved in research work for six to ten weeks. The start date is flexible, the weekly working hours are 29 to 39 hours.

Project B04 "Open Welfare States? Social Protection of Labour Migration and its Repercussions for National Policies" is part of the CRC "Global Dynamics of Social Policy".

The project uses a mixed methods approach to investigate several hypotheses on the relationships between immigration, the welfare state and immigrant welfare rights. One part of the project is a newly compiled original dataset which allows to comparatively assess immigrant welfare rights over 39 years, covering the time period from 1980-2018. The sample includes not only welfare states in Western Europe and North America, but also a number of countries in Eastern Europe, Asia and Latin America. The second part of the project prepares case studies on different mechanisms that explain the structure and change of social security systems and migrants’ access to social benefits.

The prospective intern could work on some or all of the following tasks, depending on skill set and interest:

  • Literature research on democracy/autocracy, civil society and immigrant welfare rights
  • Literature research on migration and social protection in the EU, Mercosur and ASEAN
  • Descriptive data analyses, visualization of quantitative data; preparation of Codebook for our dataset
  • Preparation, cleaning and analysis of qualitative data

We are looking for someone that has the ability and motivation to work autonomously; ideally with an interest in migration, welfare states and immigrant welfare rights. Good knowledge of the MS Office suite; as well as very good English language skills are necessary, knowledge of Stata and/or R or the willingness to learn would be helpful, but not required.

Working with us will help you gain insights on work in an academic environment, and the opportunity to work on a unique new dataset capturing a timely political topic with a young and friendly team. Under the current circumstances, it is of course possible to work from home.

The paid internship is supposed to run for 6 to 10 weeks, the weekly working hours ranging from 29 to 39 hours. The starting dtae is flexible.

If you are in terested in working with us at project B04, please get in touch with Dr. Friederike Römer.

Dr. Friederike Römer
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-67469

India in lockdown (Photo: ThroughMyEyes, Adobe Stock)
India in lockdown (Photo: ThroughMyEyes, Adobe Stock)
Part 4 of the CRC 1342 Covid-19 Social Policy Response Series has been published. For India, Stefan Kühner, Keerty Nakray and Daniel Neff conclude: The relief efforts have not been able to adequately address the social and economic suffering.

In their essay, Stefan Kühner, Keerty Nakray and Daniel Neff summarise the broad contours and key characteristics of the Indian government’s social policy re­sponse to the Covid-19 pandemic and the ensuing nationwide lockdown (up to the end of September 2020). This far, the authors write, the Indian government’s Covid-19 relief measures have not been able to adequately address the social and economic grief in the country, as there were no adequate safety nets in place to counter immediate social emergencies to begin with.

Not a single piece of new legislation has been implemented in response to the COVID-19 crisis. Instead, the authors found a large "and at times bewildering" array of temporary relief measures by ordinances, specifically targeting distinct groups, for example 'the poorest of the poor', elderly, widows, disabled, farmers, construction workers, unorganised sector workers, and fishermen. Apart from a housing scheme, the authors did not find any new longer-term scheme that has been devel­oped directly in response to the pandemic.

Kühner, Nakray and Neff conclude: "The initial picture suggests that the Indian government’s response to the pandemic prioritised economic and fiscal measures, relied on the existing inadequate safety net, and was not timely enough to support millions of inter-state migrants." Although all measures added up to being fiscally quite expansive, the benefit levels granted fall far short of the sums needed to compensate for Covid-19-related income losses.

The authors’ analysis of policy documents suggests that the Indian government’s Covid-19 crisis response has been merely incremental rather than resulting in any radical or structural adjustments of the In­dian social policy status quo.

Read the full essay and the appendix documenting the government's measures: India’s Social Policy Response to Covid-19: Temporary Relief in a Rigid Welfare Landscape

See the other parts of the series: CRC 1342 Covid-19 Social Policy Response Series

Kressen Thyen and Alex Veit from project B09 are chairing the section "The Internationalised Politics of Welfare". Abstracts for papers must be submitted by the end of January, panel proposals by 10 February.

Call for Panels and Papers

ECPR General Conference 2021, 31 August – 3 September 2021, University of Innsbruck, Austria

Section 57: The Internationalised Politics of Welfare

Chairs: Kressen Thyen (University of Bremen) & Alex Veit (University of Bremen)

Endorsed by the ECPR Standing Group on Political Economy and Welfare State Politics

In recent years, scholars of welfare state politics and social policy have paid increasing attention to internationalised welfare as a field of study. In contrast to the traditional welfare state literature which conceptualizes social policy primarily as a national issue, this relatively new branch of scholarship emphasises the influence of global dynamics and international entanglements on both social needs and welfare provision. Elements of internationalisation include a broad range of factors, from imperial legacies, globalized economies and geopolitical dependency to internationally fostered and financed social policy designs and benchmarking practices. These factors are particularly influential, but not limited to, welfare states in the Global South.

Different strands of research have contributed to our knowledge of internationalised welfare. Phenomena of internationalised welfare have been described in the fields of social history, international political economy, development studies, and public policy/global social policy. Also, more practice-oriented research on poverty reduction research, global health and humanitarian aid have contributed immensely. These research fields, however, are often too disconnected to bring forth collectively shared understandings of internationalised welfare.

Bringing these different strands of research together, this section seeks to advance empirical and theoretical discussions about internationalised welfare. Doing so, we aim to highlight continuities and changes in internationalised welfare from the ‘age of empires’ to the present period of ‘global social governance’. Specifically, we ask: How do global challenges and international political structures – from imperial rule to global governance – impact on national and local welfare institutions? What role do international and transnational actors play in the design, finance and provision of welfare systems? Which ideas and interests drive such involvement? Finally, how does internationalisation impact on state-society relations and collective expectations of the (welfare) state?

To address the above questions, we invite panels and papers from various disciplinary, geographical, and methodological backgrounds. We specifically encourage, but are not limited to, contributions focusing on welfare systems in late-developing and less industrialised economies as well as on international responses to welfare state crises.


How to submit your panel or paper

The section presently consists of four initial panels (abstracts below). We welcome individual paper proposals to these panels. To facilitate planning, please send your paper abstract by email to the section chairs by January 31, 2021.

Additional panel proposals, complete with 3-5 papers, and additional individual papers, are equally welcome. These should be submitted to the ECPR online platform by February 10, 2021:

For any questions, please contact section chairs Alex Veit ( or Kressen Thyen (

Initial panels

From Imperial to Post-Imperial Welfare Policies: Continuities and Changes

Panel Chairs: Roy Karadag ( & Alex Nadège Ouedraogo (

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 Global South: Between Popular Contention, Statebuilding and Internationalisation

Panel Chair: Alex Veit (

This panel interrogates postcolonial welfare states in the Global South as processes and products of entanglement between domestic, international 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 strongly internationalised. The design, finance, and provision of welfare is a complex 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 international, 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?

Globalisation and 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 from IR and other disciplines related to the following 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?

Dr. Kressen Thyen
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy, Institute for Intercultural and International Studies
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58515

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

Öktem earned his PhD at Bilkent University in Ankara with a thesis on the emergence of welfare systems in the Global South. In the interview, he talks about his academic career and explains his role in the CRC.

Dear Kerem, you have moved to the University of Bremen a few weeks ago and are now also working in the CRC project B01 - welcome! What topics and tasks will you be working on in the next few months?

Kerem Öktem: As a member of the project on "Mechanisms of social policy diffusion", I will be looking in particular at the development of Turkish social policy. A particular focus of my work will be to understand which causal mechanisms have played a role in the introduction and development of unemployment insurance in Turkey.

After your studies in Bayreuth, you moved to Bilkent University in Ankara. What were your reasons for doing your PhD there?

Already during my studies in Bayreuth, I did an internship abroad at the Turkish Human Rights Foundation (TIHV) and a semester abroad at the Middle East Technical University (METU/ODTÜ) in Ankara. For private reasons, it was obvious for me to stay in Ankara and so I decided to do my PhD at Bilkent University.

There is probably hardly a phase in the career of a scientist in which one can deal with a topic as intensively as during the PhD period. Your dissertation is entitled: "Pathways to universal social security in lower income countries: explaining the emergence of welfare states in the developing world". From your point of view, what was the most important insight you gained?

My dissertation is dedicated to the question of under which circumstances relatively poor countries develop such comprehensive social policies that they can be described as welfare states. What particularly surprised me was that social policy was developed in very different contexts, by governments and regimes of very different kinds. Two of the cases I looked at in detail were Brazil and South Africa. Here, for example, it was shown that in Brazil not only the democratic centre-left governments of the 2000s, but already the right-wing military regime from 1964 to 1985, and in South Africa not only the governments formed by the African National Congress (ANC) in the post-apartheid era, but already governments during the apartheid era expanded social policy for very specific motives.

In 2017, you moved to the University of Bielefeld and worked on the project "How 'Social' Is Turkey"? Can you give an answer to that - how social is Turkey?

The question "how 'social' is Turkey?" in the project title referred to our attempt to understand to what extent a social policy similar to European welfare states has emerged in Turkey. In doing so, we found that in recent decades the main social policy programmes that constitute the modern welfare state, such as an old-age pension or health insurance, have been introduced in Turkey and gradually extended to a large part of the population. In this respect, Turkey is now quite similar to European welfare states. However, if one looks at the details of the programmes, one sees that differences still exist. For example, there is no legal entitlement to basic material security as there is in Germany. If one takes a broader view of the context and sees the European welfare state embedded in the democratic constitutional state, the comparison obviously becomes even more difficult.

Will Turkey remain a focus of your academic work or will your interest shift to another region?

Researching Turkish social policy from a comparative perspective will remain a focus of my work. However, I would also like to turn more to other countries. If I have the time, I will, for example, look at social policy developments in India, which are surprisingly little discussed in international research.

Dr. Kerem Gabriel Öktem
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen

In his Working Paper, our Mercator Fellow Stephen Devereux analyses how international agencies initiated the introduction of cash transfers and social protection systems in Africa.

Stephen Devereux has published a paper in the SOCIUM SFB 1342 Working Paper Series entitled "Policy pollination. A brief history of social protection’s brief history in Africa".

In his paper, Devereux focuses in particular on international donor organisations and their influence on the introduction and design of social protection systems on the African continent. These donor agencies deployed a range of tactics to induce African governments to implement cash transfer programmes and establish social protection systems, Devereux writes. The strategies included (1) building the empirical evidence base for the positive impact of cash transfers; (2) funding social protection programmes until governments can take over themselves; (3) strengthening government capacity to provide social protection systems through technical assistance and workshops; (4) commissioning and co-developing national social protection policies; and (5) encouraging the domestication of international social protection law into national legislation.

Despite these pressures and inducements, some governments have resisted or implemented social protection only partially and reluctantly; either, Devereux says, because they are unconvinced by the measures or because devoting scarce resources to these programmes does not suit their political interests. This raises the question of the extent to which donor agencies' policy agendas conflict with national priorities, and whether social protection programmes and systems would flourish or wither if international support was withdrawn.

Download the paper as pdf: Policy pollination. A brief history of social protection’s brief history in Africa

Dr. Stephen Devereux
Library Road
BN1 9RE Brighton
Phone: +44 1273 915802

Prof. Dr. Lutz Leisering
Prof. Dr. Lutz Leisering
Im Interview spricht Leisering über den dritten Band der Reihe "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", in dem er ein Modell zur Analyse sozialpolitischer Entwicklung vorstellt, das sich auch und gerade für den Globalen Süden eignet.

The third volume of the series "Global Dynamics of Social Policy", published by our SFB with Pagrave Macmillan, has been published: Lutz Leiseirng's "One Hundred Years of Social Protection - The Changing Social Question in Brazil, India, China, and South Africa". In the book, Leisering develops a conceptual model that can be used to analyse the development of social policy, also and especially in the Global South. Eight authors then apply this model to the socio-political development of the case studies Brazil, India, China and South Africa. In the interview, Leisering talks about the volume's place in social policy research and the lessons he draws from the case studies of his colleagues.

Your book is conceptually based on the "Onion Skin Model" that you have developed in 2019 in "The Global Rise of Social Cash Transfers". Can you describe the core of the model in a few sentences?

Prof. Dr. Lutz LeiseringThe onion skin model is based on the assumption that expanded state social policy is preconditional and evolutionarily improbable. This is because social policy not only has material preconditions, but also, neglected in research, ideational and socio-cultural preconditions. The onion-skin model reconstructs the ideational preconditions in four layers or " skins": social policy can only emerge if certain socio-economic conditions are perceived and addressed as "social problems"; if, more generally, the "social question" is recognised as a central issue of social development; if normative and cognitive models of the institutional handling of social problems are developed; and if the state is ascribed a social responsibility for the welfare of all citizens. These four layers reflect national state traditions and citizens' moral and cognitive orientations towards the social question.

In addition, there is a fifth, outer layer: only when the benefits of social policy for collective concerns - such as economic growth, political stability, national unity or human rights - are demonstrated ("framing"), is social policy sustainably legitimised. If, on the other hand, a collective dysfunctionality of social policy is claimed (negative framing), social policy is delegitimised.

If one examines these five layers for each country, one finds great differences, even between countries with similar levels of economic development. The differentiated layer model goes further than the distinction between major social worldviews - social democracy, conservatism and liberalism - that is common in the political economy of the welfare state and is hardly applicable to the Global South.

It is a model that is not only suitable for analysing the development of social policy in the Global South, but is generally applicable. You have been researching social policy for 30 years. Is the Onion Skin Model something like the culmination of all those years?

Yes, in the Onion Skin Model perspectives converge that have developed over the decades of my involvement with social policy. I researched the welfare states of the Global North for a long time and only turned to social policy in the Global South at a late stage (but as one of the first in Germany). In the attempt to theoretically grasp "social policy in development contexts", I came across basic questions of social policy that arise anew in the Southern context. A mere application of northern theories, as attempted by some, seemed to me to make little sense. In my theoretical search, I was influenced by my academic teacher Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, as well as by my doctoral supervisor at the London School of Economics, Robert Pinker, the most important student of T. H. Marshall. Welfare state theory today is dominated by political economy approaches that are capitalism-theoretical at their core and have their roots in Marx and Polanyi. Kaufmann, on the other hand, has developed a genuinely sociological approach to the welfare state, which is oriented towards modernisation theory and stands in the tradition of Max Weber. In my studies on the Global South, I found that the almost buried modernisation-theoretical tradition is better suited than the political-economic one to grasp social policy in the Global South and even to enable an overarching global theory. The onion-skin model is an operationalisation of essential elements of this genuinely sociological, Weberian approach.

The case studies in your book are largely based on the analysis of historical sources such as documents. An approach we also follow at the CRC 1342, but in your book you write: "[...] systematic recourse to documents is not widespread in the social policy literature." Do you have an explanation why this is?

Traditionally, the extensive analysis of primary sources has been the domain of historians. Today, however, idea-oriented approaches are widespread in policy research, i.e. in studies of specific social policy laws or reforms, and these approaches rely on the analysis of documents, e.g. minutes of parliamentary debates. But as far as the analysis of the overall arrangement of social policy measures in a country or the welfare state as a whole is concerned, there are only a few ideologically oriented and source-based analyses. Instead, analyses of socio-economic interests and power relations are dominant, with ideas being contributed only very coarsely by the major social worldviews of social democracy, conservatism and liberalism. My volume, on the other hand, aims at a fine-grained ideational analysis of the overall arrangement of social security in the four countries, which requires a close document analysis. Such an approach, especially over a period of 100 years and comparing countries, is very rare in the literature.

For the case studies you have chosen China, India, Brazil and South Africa. Why these countries and not, for example, low-income countries? 

In my last major study before this volume, the DFG project FLOOR, my team and I examined basic social security in all countries of the Global South, i.e. what you might call a large n analysis. In doing so, one cannot, by nature, delve deeply into individual countries. When looking for a small group of countries (small n) for an in-depth analysis, the choice fell on some of the largest "emerging markets", because here one can nicely show that besides the much-noticed economic rise of some countries of the South, social policy has developed enormously at the same time, which people are far less aware of. We found a lot of literature on the economic development of the BRICS countries, but very little comparative literature on their social policy. Moreover, we must not forget that the countries in our period of study, i.e. 1920-2020, were poor or even bitterly poor for a long time. The gross national product in India and China, for example, only increased significantly after 1980. An analysis of the four countries is also productive because this group of countries is very heterogeneous in several respects.

The developments of social policy in China, India, Brazil and South Africa have many similarities, but also crucial differences. The case studies are certainly more than just examples of application of the Onion Skin Model - what are the most important findings you draw from the comparison and synthesis of the four case studies?

In general, we can say that our findings confirm the thesis of cultural idiosyncrasies of each individual welfare state, which Franz Xaver Kaufmann established for northern welfare states, in contrast to the popular classification of countries into simple boxes. We also found these idiosyncrasies in the Global South. Nevertheless, certain patterns are apparent, there are commonalities and differences between the four countries.

As far as commonalities are concerned, it is striking that in all four countries at least the elites saw social policy early on as part of a modernisation of their country to be striven for. What surprised us was that this already began in the 1920s and not in the 1940s, as we had initially assumed according to the literature. What the countries also have in common, with the exception of India, is that social policy has become more inclusive over the decades, i.e. has somewhat broken away from the early privileging of small social groups - a certain social progress. This was reflected in the spread of social semantics such as "social policy", "social insurance", "social security" and "social cash transfers" and the establishment of relevant ministries. External social policy ideas from northern countries and international organisations also played a role in all countries, even if these were processed in a country-specific way.

In terms of differences between the four countries, India stands out the most. Social policy in India is less developed than in the other three countries; the social question has always been "stifled" by religious factors and the caste system, as Sony Pellissery argues. The hope in the early post-war period that India would demonstrate the superiority of Western democracy compared to China has thus not materialised, neither economically nor socio-politically. South Africa, on the other hand, was active in social policy at an early stage, including during apartheid and increasingly afterwards, and now has a system of basic social security for a wide range of groups that is considered by some to be the new social model in the Global South. This model is not based on contribution-financed and wage-related social insurance, as is the case in most northern welfare states, but on tax-financed basic social security (social cash transfers). Among the four countries, China has had the most chequered history in the field of social policy, also and especially after the revolution, and has most recently, in the 2010s, built up an astonishingly comprehensive social security system, albeit at a very low level. Brazil is a country with a strong history of social policy and great promises in its constitution, but this has always been overshadowed by the unresolved fundamental problem of a massive inequality in the distribution of land and the associated power relations.

The social question was raised in different ways and at different times in the four countries. The earliest social question was the land question. It remained unresolved in Brazil, while China implemented a radical land reform after the communist revolution in the early 1950s, making land the main form of social security in the countryside for a long time. In Brazil, the social question was for a long time primarily a workers' question, which dictators used to secure their rule through a neo-corporatist intertwining of the state and the industrial workforce. From the 1990s onwards, however, Brazil became one of the pioneers of a social security policy for the poor that went beyond workers' politics; the inclusion of broader sections of the population became the new social question. In South Africa, the social question was consistently primarily the question of the poor, driven during apartheid primarily by concern for impoverished whites, while blacks were seen as uncivilised.

Religion was a factor that shaped how the social question was dealt with. Hindu traditions of thought were a major brake on the idea of universal social policy in India, while in South Africa neo-Calvinism promoted a certain expansion of social security, but combined with harsh discrimination and social control, up to and including the deportation of the black population to their own homelands. Even from today's point of view, the most evil discrimination was justified with elaborate religious ideas, as Marianne Ulriksen notes for South Africa. Social ideas are not always humane, as the current integration of social services into the nationwide monitoring and control system in the People's Republic of China shows.

Based on the comparison of four countries, one can make cautious assumptions about the future of social security in the Global South. On the one hand, there are apocalyptic visions in the literature, mostly from political economists, who postulate a global precarisation of labour and a new intensification of the social question. On the other hand, declarations and programmes of international organisations from within and outside the United Nations often reflect an unbroken belief in progress. Perhaps a third scenario is more likely, namely heterogeneous development. Already in the Global North, genuine welfare statehood (in the sense of a full development of all four or five layers of the onion-skin model) is limited to a few countries in Western and Northern Europe and the Commonwealth. It is therefore plausible to assume that the social question and how it is dealt with varies greatly even within the Global South. China and South Africa represent the variant of a semi-universal social security system at a very low level. What is at stake here is nothing more (but also nothing less) than the fight against extreme poverty. Brazil stands for expanded but endangered social security, and India for the failure of the social question. The four countries also show the limits of social policy, namely the social inequality structures and lines of division that social policy can at best mitigate, in several dimensions: Ethnicity (South Africa, Brazil), religion (India), caste (India), class and gender (all four countries).


Read the book (open access): One Hundred Years of Social Protection - The Changing Social Question in Brazil, India, China, and South Africa

Shih-Jiunn Shi and Suetgiin Soon from the National Taiwan University analyse Taiwan's social policy response to the social and economic consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.

In their abstract they write: "Effective countermeasures have created favourable circumstances for the government to deploy social policy as a safety net. Almost all the major responses are of a temporary nature, and a programmatic extension of the existing social security institutions (e.g., social assistance and specific in-cash benefits targeted at specific occupational or population groups). In addition, the government granted financial support to those enterprises in difficulties to disincentivize them from dismissing their employees. All these measures have largely offset the adverse consequences of the pandemic crisis. Against this backdrop, Taiwan should be amongst those countries to recover first from the pandemic shock."

In the coming weeks, a total of more than 30 volumes will be published in the CRC 1342 Covid-19 Social Policy Response Series, with a special focus on the Global South. The series provides a country-by-country overview of worldwide social policy developments in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic. Each report contains an essay focusing on one particular dimension of a country’s social policy response and is supplemented by a systematic data appendix on social policy legislation passed since the outbreak of the pandemic. All published reports have undergone peer review. Contributors to the series include members of the CRC 1342 and its international expert network.

Read the first volume of the CRC 1342 Covid-19 Social Policy Response Series: Taiwan’s Social Policy Response to Covid-19: Protecting Workers, Reviving the Economy

Fabian Besche-Truthe, Helen Seitzer and Michael Windzio have published a paper in the SFB 1342 Technical Paper Series. The author team presents a data driven way to operationalize cultural characteristics of states and cultural similarity between states.

Fabian Besche-Truthe, Helen Seitzer and Michael Windzio have published a paper in the SFB 1342 Technical Paper Series. The author team presents a data driven way to operationalize cultural characteristics of states and cultural similarity between states. Why is this important? The authors are confident that culture is a major factor influencing the developmental paths of states and regions.

Their data set on "cultural spheres" is an innovative tool to describe cultural configurations of nations in a relational way. 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, civil freedom etc. As a result, the user gets a fuzzy typology of cultural spheres. This typology consists of yearly valued networks, spanning a time frame of 1789 until 2010 (see figure, the year 2015 as an example). The more of these characteristics two countries share, the more closely connected they are.

Figure 1: Cultural Spheres Network 2015

The approach of Besche-Truthe, Seitzer and Windzio enables researchers to overcome various ways of using proxies to define some sort of cultural categories. Through a relational, additive approach to cultural spheres, the authors offer a tool that is adaptable to different research questions, especially regarding policy diffusion. Their dataset is a first step towards harnessing the ‘culture matters’ proclamation in a standardized, controllable, relational way.

The full paper is availabe for download: Cultural Spheres – Creating a dyadic dataset of cultural proximity

More information on the research of project A05: The Global Development, Diffusion and Transformation of Education Systems


Dr. Mónika Contreras Saiz
Dr. Mónika Contreras Saiz
For a couple of weeks now, Mónika Contreras Saiz is working as a researcher in project B02 "Emergence, Expansion, and Transformation of the Welfare State in the Cono Sur in Exchange with (Southern) Europe (1850–1990)". About time to introduce her.

Dear Mónika, you have recently joined project B02 - welcome! Which are your main topics of research at the moment?

Mónika Contreras Saiz: I work on the emergence and development of housing policy in Chile using the case study of police officers. From a micro-historical perspective, I analyse the provision of social housing and the relationship between this state housing policy for a specific population group and a broader national social policy.

Poster contest: Exhibition on affordable housing (From: Revista de La Habitación. Organo del Consejo Superior y de los Consejos Departamentales de Habitaciones Obreras. Ano II, Santiago, Setiembre de 1922, N. 21, S. 613)Like the health and occupational health and safety policies that we examine in project B02, Chilean social housing policy has received regional and European impulses that we are also investigating. Another aspect of social housing policy to be considered is its relationship with public health and safety policy, for example as part of the solution to a serious public health problem such as child mortality. In Chile at the beginning of the 20th century, more than half of the children under five years of age died from poorer social classes. The provision of hygienic housing and its regulation would help to solve this problem. In terms of internal security, the housing problem was linked to a moral problem that affected security and even the economy. It was argued that the lack of adequate housing led to alcoholism ("A good house keeps the worker away from the tavern" - quote from a recommendation for housing for Chilean workers in 1904), misery and immorality, and thus to criminal behaviour and disorder, with fatal consequences not only for public order but also for economic development.

One thing that stands out on your CV is that you have two degrees. First, you earned a diploma in history at the Universidad Nacional de Colombia in Bogotá. From 2005 to 2007, you completed a Master's degree in Ancient American Studies and History at the FU. What was the reason for you to start a second degree course after your diploma?

Mónika Contreras Saiz: It is a long story, but I try to present it in a compact way: I graduated in Colombia in 2003 and wanted to do a Master's in Political Science, Anthropology, History or Communication Studies in Germany. In Colombia, a German professor who worked at my university (Prof. Dr. Gisela Cramer) advised me and explained that there were no Master's degrees in Germany at that time. However, the Bologna Process had already been set in motion, which began to change the entire study system in Germany. It would therefore be likely that there would already be a number of new Master's programmes when the planned start of studies (then scheduled for the summer of 2005) took place.

I had applied for a DAAD Colfuturo Scholarship and finally came to Germany in winter 2004. When I learned German, I was supposed to decide which Master's programme to start. The summer semester of 2005 was slowly approaching and the only Master's programme that came into question for me did not begin until October 2005. At the same time, I had the obligation to begin my studies in April 2005. Because of this situation, I decided to take the second part of a Magister programme, which was equivalent to a Master's degree (two years of attending seminars and preparing the final thesis). In this sense, for me, the Magister was a kind of further education and less a second degree course. Later I had the opportunity to switch to the Master's programme, but I was very satisfied with the Magister programme and decided to stay enrolled. So I'm one of the last generations to receive the title Magister or Magistra Artium in Germany.

After your doctorate you taught and researched at the Institute for Latin American Studies at the FU Berlin. What were your main focuses?

Mónika Contreras Saiz: In the first phase, my focus was on the colonization history of Latin America from a transnational and global perspective and on interethnic relations in border areas and economic spaces as emerging coexistence spaces. In the second phase, I concentrated particularly on historical research on the culture of memory in Latin America and the use of digital methods in historical research. In my research, I have thus dealt with the establishment and maintenance of security in the context of state-building processes in Latin America, German police assistance for Latin American police officers, and the communication of history through entertainment media in Latin America.

Although all these research areas sound very different, they are somehow connected to each other and have also opened up research opportunities for me in new areas. For example, the study of relations between the state and indigenous groups led me to study police forces. The study of police forces in Latin America, in turn, led me to the topic of social housing policy. And on top of that, there are also beautiful coincidences in work and life: in 2011, for example, I took part in an event on memory and since then this topic has always accompanied me and offered me many new research opportunities.

More information on project B02: Emergence, Expansion, and Transformation of the Welfare State in the Cono Sur in Exchange with (Southern) Europe (1850–1990)


Picture 1: private.
Picture 2: Poster contest: Exhibition on affordable housing (From: Revista de La Habitación. Organo del Consejo Superior y de los Consejos Departamentales de Habitaciones Obreras. Año II, Santiago, Setiembre de 1922, N. 21, S. 613)

Dr. Mónika Contreras Saiz
CRC 1342: Global Dynamics of Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen

Dr. Tim Dorlach
Dr. Tim Dorlach
The country reports record and analyse which social policy measures countries around the world have taken to mitigate the negative economic and social consequences of the pandemic. Tim Dorlach explains in an interview what we can expect.

Dear Tim, in a few days time our first country report on social policy responses to the Covid 19 pandemic will be published. Please explain briefly what it is about.

Tim Dorlach: The contributions to our new series of country reports analyse the social policy measures that national governments have taken so far to mitigate the negative social impacts of this global pandemic. Each report consists of an essay and an appendix of data on key social policy reforms. In the first round, the focus is initially on countries of the Global South. Researchers still know far too little about the social policy responses to the pandemic beyond Europe and North America.

How many country reports will be released in the series and who writes them?

Tim Dorlach: About 30 country reports will be published in the coming months. These reports will be written by some members of the Collaborative Research Centre 1342 as well as by many members of our international network of country experts. This network was initiated to enable the CRC to conduct global social policy research in close cooperation with local experts.

The corona pandemic is far from over, and the same applies to its social impacts and the associated social policy responses of nation states. Will there therefore be something like a follow-up report for the countries - "Covid19 Social Policy Responses in 2021" or similar?

Tim Dorlach: That is the plan. After all, the medium- and long-term social policy responses to the pandemic will probably be different from the initial short-term responses in the first months after the outbreak of the pandemic. On the one hand, governments will probably have to find more structural welfare state solutions, but on the other hand, they may soon run out of money to do so.

The Covid-19 country reports were (of course) not included in the original programme of CRC 1342. Can you briefly describe how this project came about?

Tim Dorlach: The pandemic has of course taken us all by surprise and thrown us off track. In many parts, the pandemic has also severely impaired work. On the other hand, with the CRC, the University of Bremen is also ideally prepared to investigate the social impact of the pandemic and social policy solutions from a global perspective. This additional project was therefore launched at relatively short notice.


Tim Dorlach is a Postdoctoral Researcher at SOCIUM. His current research focuses on social and healthcare policy in the newly industrialising countries. He tweets at @TimDorlach.