(Re)organising Social Policy - new working paper

News from Jul 31, 2013


SEU Working Paper No. 6: (Re)organising Social Security. Social Policy in Europe between Territory, Legitimacy and Identity (Stefanie Börner, Monika Eigmüller, Monika Senghaas)


Recent debates often suggest that welfare states are nation states and that therefore comprehensive social policies at EU level are not conceivable given the lack of a European collective identity. In reconsidering former and current periods of social policy rescaling, this paper enquires into the preconditions of expanding the territorial frame of organising social policy and asks when, why and how actors are willing to change their frames of actions with respect to welfare policies. This diachronic perspective allows us to examine how a certain territorial principle creates new categories of action and reference points that are able to establish new types of belonging and solidarity. In order to do so we analyse actors’ interests, interpretations, motives and discursive shifts.

The findings point to the close intertwining between general structural changes at the economic and political level on the one hand and the shifting frames of reference and scopes of action on the part of political, collective and individual actors on the other hand. Therefore, we argue that structural transformations alter political discourses and actors’ interests, which, in the long run, may lead to the introduction of new actors, ideas and territorial principles as well. So instead of suggesting the rigid nature of national welfare states and linked to this the missing solidarity at the European level a historically informed approach sheds light on the creative and conflictive processes that led to the predominance of national social policies.