The research programme

The developmental dynamics of social policy can be explained by the interplay between national determinants and international and transnational interdependencies. Such interdependencies can be horizonal, i.e. between states and societies, encompassing the exchange of ideas, economic relations, migratory flows, violent conflicts and pandemics; or vertical, i.e. interdependencies in the form of political-organizational linkages between states and international organizations active in social and education policy. The central thesis of the Collaborative Research Centre “Global Dynamics of Social Policy” (CRC 1342) is that the type and density of these interdependency networks – in interaction with the national constellation in politics, society and the economy – shape the dynamics and patterns of national social policy.

During its first phase from 2018 to 2021, the CRC showed how the developmental dynamics and patterns of public social policy can be analysed globally and in historical comparison. This was demonstrated by explaining the introduction of social protection and education programmes.

However, at the core of social policy research is, without doubt, the study of the inclusiveness and scope of provision of social protection programmes. The key objective of the 14 projects during the second phase is measuring, describing and explaining the developmental dynamics of these two dimensions of social policy. In addition, the Global Welfare State Information System (WeSIS) is being further developed in an Information Management Project (INF). As in funding phase one, all research data collected will be fed into the web-based, interactive information system, which is expected to be released to the public in 2024.

The SFB 1342 is organized into two project areas:

The six projects in Area A focus comprehensively on the developmental dynamics of inclusiveness and scope of provision in specific social policy fields from a global and historical perspective. A total of eight policy fields are being studied in Project Area A. All six projects are collecting data on inclusiveness and scope of provision and are feeding them into the information system WeSIS. The macro-quantitative analyses to identify the determinants of social policy dynamics in global comparison are being supplemented by more in-depth country case studies so that the special characteristics of social protection in the Global South can be taken into account in a context-sensitive manner.

Project Area B is comprised of eight projects investigating the dynamics of social policy inclusiveness and scope of provision in case studies and small-N comparisons for specific social protections programmes in selected countries or regions. As in the first phase, the main focus is on in-depth qualitative studies, although some projects are now also employing a mixed-methods approach to enrich country and regional studies with quantitative analyses. Taken together, the eight projects cover all world regions, but analytically each focuses on a specific type of horizontal or vertical interdependency: They are investigating how social programmes develop in the two dimensions under the influence of war, economic crises, pandemics, international organizations or transnational flows of ideas. Specifically, the causal relationships between the central interdependency and certain selected social programmes are being studied, under consideration of contextual factors.