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Confronting Social and Environmental Sustainability with Economic Pressure: Balancing Trade-offs by Policy Dismantling? (CONSENSUS)

Principal Investigator:
[Projektleitung verlinken]

General project coordinator: Prof. Dr. Christoph Knill, Universität Konstanz

Research Team:

Stefanie Korte

European Commission
Mar 01, 2008 — Feb 28, 2011
Contact Person:
Dr. Helge Jörgens

Project partners:

Universität Konstanz, Department of Politics and Management, Germany
University of East Anglia, School of Environmental Sciences, Centre for Social and Economic Research on the Global Environment, United Kingdom
Oxford University, Department of Politics and International Relations, United Kingdom
University of Aarhus, Deparment of Political Science, Denmark
Institut Barcelona d'Estudis Internacionals, Barcelona, Spain
European University Institute, Florence, Italy

Project description

In the context of the sustainable development concept and its emphasis on the balanced integration of economic, social, and environmental objectives, it is the aim of the project to investigate to what extent and how conflicts and trade-offs between economic, social, and environmental policies are solved by policy dismantling. The concept of policy dismantling describes all forms of policy change, in which regulatory or service levels are reduced. In extreme cases, policy dismantling may culminate in the abolishment of policies. The project starts from the basic assumption that policy dismantling plays a crucial role in resolving trade-offs and conflicts between the different objectives of sustainable development, but until now lacks thorough understanding as a neglected aspect of policy change.
Essentially, the project addresses two research questions:

  • To what extent can we actually observe patterns of social and environmental policy dismantling, and how do these patterns vary across countries, individual policy areas, and over time?
  • How can we explain such patterns of social and environmental policy dismantling, their variations across countries and over time?

To provide answers to the first question, data on social and environmental policy dismantling in 25 OECD countries for a period of thirty years (1975 to 2005) will be collected. In the explanatory analysis of possible cross-national and/or inter-temporal variations in patterns of social and environmental policy dismantling, the project combines statistical methods of analysis with qualitative in-depth investigations of particular cases. Thereby, the project places particular emphasis on a systematic investigation of the impact of cross-national and intertemporal variations in economic pressures, which emanate from globalization and domestic macroeconomic austerity, and international harmonization on social and environmental policy dismantling. In addition, the explanatory potential of cross-national and intertemporal variations in domestic actor constellations and political institutions will be scrutinized.