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Social policy aims at protecting social rights and creating social security. In addition to the market and familial support networks, social policy is a key producer of welfare. However, welfare state research – at least in the context of advanced democracies – usually understands social policy as a matter for the nation state and explains its development almost exclusively in the context of domestic conditions and processes. Therefore, there is often a lack of systematic consideration of external influences on national social policies. Examples of external influences include the role of international organizations (e.g. ILO, WHO), or interdependencies between states and societies, such as cross-border information exchange (e.g. policy learning), migration, trade relations or violent conflicts.

In accordance with the central aim of the Collaborative Research Centre (CRC), the main theme of the conference revolves around explaining the global dynamics of social policy from the last quarter of the 19th century to the present day. Participants seek to address how the interplay between domestic factors and inter-/transnational interdependencies has shaped the development of social policy.

We distinguish between two types of international interdependencies that may trigger the development of social policy across countries: (1) Horizontal interdependencies refer to cross-national interdependencies such as (de-)colonization, war, trade relations, capital movements, migration flows and transnational communication. (2) Vertical interdependencies denote relations between states and international organisations.

Since national policy-makers need to address these international influences, the thematic focus of the conference is on the interplay of national socio-economic and political frameworks with international interdependencies in order to explain the development of social policy in global and historical perspective.

More details can be found at the conference website.

The detailed conference programme.

Judith M. Ebeling, E-Mail: