Around 30 percent of the GDP in Germany are produced or consumed by the welfare state. More than 40 percent of the federal budget is allocated to social policies. Nevertheless, due to a reduction in the number of professorships on social policy social scientific research on the welfare state is in decline. The “Network Promoting Interdisciplinary Research on Social Policy”, initiated by the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs, attempts to reverse this trend. Endowment chairs, promotion of young scholars, financial support for research activities – there is a broad spectrum of possible initiatives which will be supported by various sponsors already starting in 2017/18. The new-established interdisciplinary Advisory Board is primarily tasked with quality management.
In recent years various observers in Germany deplored the declining number and importance of social scientific research on the welfare state while at the same time the political, social and financial importance of social policies increased. Universities changed the designation of new chairs in social sciences. Research institutes realigned their focus. This leads to a major gap in research at a time when social and global developments result in pressing new questions regarding welfare and social justice. In February 2016 the Federal Ministry of Labour and Social Affairs and the Berlin-Brandenburg Academy of Sciences and Humanities organized a conference with sociologists, political scientists, economists, law scholars, historians as well as Christian social ethicists on the question of “Is there a Crisis of Social Policy Research?” in which several members of the SOCIUM participated. One result was the foundation of the “Network Promoting Interdisciplinary Research on Social Policy” based on a funding guideline of the Federal Ministry. The newly established Advisory Board convened on June 2nd, 2016 for its inaugural meeting and discussed funding for different types of research and networking. The program is to be announced by July 2016. Approved research proposals will commence in 2017/18.
Prof. Dr. Karin Gottschall
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Phone: +49 421 218-58595