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Information on press releases and related news of the department "Political Economy of the Welfare State".

International Conference, University of Bremen, September 13-15 2017

Dr. Teresa Huhle & Prof. Dr. Delia Gonzalez de Reufels, Latin American History (History Department, Faculty 8), University of Bremen, in cooperation with the SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy, University of Bremen

The conference aims to bring together an international group of junior and senior scholars from history and related fields who are working on the history of social policies and the welfare state in the Global South from a transnational, entangled or global history perspective.

Together, we would like to discuss current trends of research as well as map out open questions of the field. During the last ten years, the historiography on social policies and the welfare state has started to participate in the transnational turn. However, the exchanges of knowledge, ideas and institutions have been predominantly studied among countries and regions of the Global North, also highlighting transfers from north to south. The way European powers have intervened within their colonial domains in Africa and Asia in social policy issues can serve as an example.

We attempt to broaden these perspectives on the directions of transfer and communication. We are especially interested in research that focuses on exchanges and processes of transfer which have worked in the south-south and south-north direction. These can include questions on the effects that colonial contestations of welfare measures had on the policies in the respective ¡¥motherlands¡¦, on regional exchanges during moments of crisis (e.g. in Latin America during the Great Depression) or on how delegates from the Global South shaped the social policies of international bodies like the International Labor Organization (ILO) or the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCR).

In this context, we consider it promising to use a broad concept of the welfare state and its policies, including not only the classical domains of labor security and public health, but also encompassing fields like nutrition, reproduction, education, recreation and other emerging research perspectives.

The integration of a cultural history perspective will further enable us to look at representations and constructions of social problems in diverse spatial configurations. We consider these as directly intertwined with the policies directed at them and want to highlight that 'welfare problems' and their underlying social and moral assumptions traveled just as much.

We are furthermore particularly interested in discussing the role of policies and welfare measures in the processes of nation building, which both on an institutional and an identity level must be conceptualized as a global phenomena and transnational endeavor. At the same time, we consider it important to look at the formation and exchange of social policy ideas and institutions beyond the national level, highlighting both exchanges on the communal and provincial level and within regional cooperation and international organizations.

In sum, we are particularly interested in case studies which fit into this general framework. We invited contributions which pay particular attention to the following methodological and thematic aspects:

  • Transnational networks and actors who promoted and conceptualized social policies and their mobility, especially beyond the realm of policy makers and experts, highlighting the role of social movements, labor unions and health activists among others

  • The development and transfer of visual and graphic depictions of social problems and social policies

  • The gendered dimensions of social policies and political demands

  • Colonial and imperial social policies and their possible afterlives during nationhood

  • Cross-border struggles for the recognition of social rights

The discussion will be stimulated by keynote lectures, including Prof. Dr. Christoph Conrad (University of Geneva).

If you wish to participate in the conference, please send in an abstract (maximum length 300 words) and a short CV by October 31st, 2016 to
Notifications of acceptance will be sent out by mid-November 2016. A small travel allowance may be granted but funds are limited.

For further information please contact:

Download: Call for Papers

Laura SeelkopfLaura Seelkopf
1.106 applications for 47 fellowships.

The European University Institute is one of the most coveted Social Science research facilities in the world; and that not only for questions of European integration or European Union politics. Rather, over the last four decades the institute developed into one of the leading centers for comparative research on societies and political systems. Not surprisingly its positions are much sought after, whether it is a job offer for a professorship or a place in a fellowship program. One of the most coveted is a fellowship in the Max Weber Programme for Postdoctoral Studies. For the eleventh cohort for the year 2016/2017 more than 1.100 applications for somewhat less than 50 scholarships arrived in Florence. And now it is official: Laura Seelkopf is one of the 47 successful postdocs who are invited for a year of exciting research in Florence starting September 2016.

The Max Weber Programme of the European University Institute is widely considered to be a renowned interim stage for excellent postdocs on their way to a professorship. Florence not only offers outstanding research facilities but also an interdisciplinary research community which allows the fellows to extend their views beyond their immediate focus of studies and to expand their academic network globally. The research project, which Laura Seelkopf will pursue in Florence, deals with the comparative political economy of national tax policies and their effects on economic inequality.

  • How can we explain the different national decisions concerning direct taxation?
  • And what effects do these different systems of direct taxation have on economic inequality?

The aim of the research is to find out under which conditions direct taxation is used to reduce economic inequalities.

Dr. Laura Seelkopf
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58605

Prof. Dr. Herbert ObingerProf. Dr. Herbert Obinger
Nearly one million euros for research on "Draft, Military and the Development of the Welfare State in Europe".

According to the call for applications of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG German Research Foundation) Reinhart Koselleck Grants are supposed to enable innovative and high-risk research projects. Herbert Obinger, Professor of Comparative Politics and Comparative Social Policy Research, has now received one of these prestigious grants for his innovative research. The political scientist of the University of Bremen will compare European states on the question of whether and to what extent military and compulsory military service contributed to the development of welfare states. With this grant, the University of Bremen, once again, received a prestigious award of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft.

The US debate on the development of welfare states already recognizes the contribution of the support for veterans as one crucial element of the development of the particular social security system of the USA. In Europe, however, industrialization, proletarianization and the rise of both trade unions and social democratic parties still dominate the debate on the development of welfare states. And this, although Europe itself was once the major location of two World Wars. The preparations for war, total mobilization, the dreadful course of the wars and their catastrophic consequences all offer multiple options for research on the question whether and to what extent military and compulsory military service interfered with the social and education policies of the European countries: demands for healthier and better educated conscripts, the attempts to prevent another "turnip winter" or the (more often than missing) support for war invalids, surviving dependents, displaced persons, slave laborers, prisoners, bombed-out inhabitants - to name just a few of all the people who were left damaged by the war as regards their lives, health or opportunities.

This Koselleck Grant focuses on two aims: On the one hand to systematize beyond the multitude of diverse individual stories the comparative influences of military and conscription on the development of European welfare states. And on the other hand to analyze to what extent military and conscription are responsible for the differences in the national education and social policies.

More information:
Reinhart Koselleck-Projects - Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG German Research Foundation)

Prof. Dr. Herbert Obinger
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 5
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58567