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

Universities of Bremen and Zurich compare election outcomes / AfD-supporters not "victims of modernization".

Right-wing populism is on the rise. Everywhere? Until recently, the resilience of the German party system to such a party has been an exception to this general trend. The establishment of the Alternative für Deutschland (AfD) in the wake of the Eurozone crisis put an end to this German exceptionalism.

This paper tests the 'losers of modernization'-thesis, one of the most dominant explanations for right-wing populist voting, for the case of the AfD. Based on district level data from the Federal Institute for Research on Building, Urban Affairs and Spatial Development and official data on electoral outcomes at the district level, we examine whether the socio-economic characteristics of a district yield any explanatory power for the AfD’s electoral success in the federal elections of 2013 and the elections to the European Parliament in 2014. With this data, we avoid problems of representativeness and reliability of survey data with respect to socio-economically marginalized groups and their voting behavior. Our findings suggest that the modernization thesis bears little relevance for the success of the populist right in Germany. By contrast, we find a strong correlation between the AfD’s electoral success in a district and the success of radical right parties in previous elections in the same district. We explain this intriguing finding with a "tradition of radical right voting" and a specific political culture on which the AfD has been able to draw once the broader political and social context allowed for the creation of a right-wing populist party in Germany.

More information:
Study: It’s not the economy, stupid! Explaining the electoral success of the German right-wing populist AfD

Prof. Dr. Philip Manow
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 7
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58580

Prof. Dr. Carina SchmittProf. Dr. Carina Schmitt
1.5 Million Euros from the European Research Council for Research on "The Legacy of Colonialism: Origins and Outcome of Social Protection".

Great news at SOCIUM: Carina Schmitt, Professor of Global Social Policy at the University of Bremen has received a prestigious award. She acquired one of the coveted ERC Starting Grants. The European Research Council (ERC) now funds her research with nearly 1.5 million Euros. Carina Schmitt explores the legacy of colonialism with regard to the origins and outcomes of social security. She examines the influence of the colonial past of former colonies on the effectiveness of social policy to combat poverty and inequality. Moreover, together with colleagues, she is building a database containing information on social policies from a global and historical perspective.

Carina Schmitt: "I am very glad about receiving this award, as it allows me to implement an exciting research project in a great research environment here at the University of Bremen. This is not to be taken for granted."

This year, the ERC Starting Grant is being awarded to 406 young top researchers across Europe. Overall, the European Research Council is supporting scientists with 605 million Euros. The funding is intended to enable the recipients to independently implement their own research ideas with their teams. For this prestigious award, 3085 proposals had been submitted.

More information: Working Group "Global Social Policy"

Prof. Dr. Carina Schmitt
SOCIUM Research Center on Inequality and Social Policy
Mary-Somerville-Straße 3
28359 Bremen
Phone: +49 421 218-58603

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