In September 2007, from Thursday the 6th to Saturday the 8th, the International Sociological Association's Research Committee on Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy (RC19) will hold its annual academic conference at the Political Science Faculty of the University of Florence, Italy. The RC 19 annual conference draws together leading international scholars in the field of comparative welfare state studies and encompasses a range of disciplines including sociology, social policy and political science. As is our practice, RC 19 conference sessions will be a mix of those that reflect the conference theme and those that bring together commonly-themed papers reporting on the ongoing research projects of RC 19 members.
Conference Organizer - prof. Valeria Fargion
Administrative Coordinator - Daniel Erler
The relationship between global(ization) processes and welfare state development has generated much debate in recent years. However, those concerned with the impact of globalization upon social policy in developing countries and those dealing with industrialized countries to a large extent occupy two parallel, but still separate literatures. Attempts at bridging the gap have not been very successful so far, but there are promising signs of a more positive scenario, especially considering recent developments in the global discourse on social rights.
The "one size fits all" neo-liberal policy model of the 1990s, promoted by international institutions such as the World Bank, has been increasingly subject to critical scrutiny by academic analysts and by the global social policy network. By contrast, there is a growing recognition of the importance of political context, and of how globalization pressures are mediated by institutional capabilities, national political arrangements and interest coalitions. Among scholars of development and social policy, the relatively new emphasis on the "politics" of social policy (and not only on its perceived instrumental efficacy) opens up opportunities for a fruitful exchange with scholars in the "anglo-european" tradition of comparative social policy, which has developed methodological tools and conceptual lenses for addressing the political, cultural, institutional and economic aspects of social policy development. On the other hand, current studies on the Global South, long attuned to the international aspects of social policy, offer promising insights to "northern" researchers for understanding the complex interplay between transnational, supra-national, national and sub-national processes.
Building on these premises, the RC19 annual conference offers specific opportunities for a North-South dialogue on a range of issues that are crucial for understanding the profile of social protection across the world, and the current dynamics of social policy formation and change. We would particularly like to see papers that target the following topics, which we believe can produce fruitful dialogue across research communities:
- International organizations, trans-national policy making, and social policy
- Fighting poverty: past trends, future perspectives, developing concepts and measurements
- Health policy in industrialized, transition and developing countries: different problems, common trajectories?
- Gender, immigration and "race" in labour market informalization, social sector restructuring, and the privatization of services
- Challenges to the extension of social protection in different regions in the world
- Comparative and theoretical approaches to welfare state development applicable to northern or southern regions
- RC 19 members are also encouraged to submit paper proposals reporting on their ongoing research.
The conference will be organised according to "Korpi's rules" which have made RC19 meetings famous for their intellectual liveliness and seriousness.
The rules are named for Walter Korpi, past president of RC19, who instituted a workshop-style meeting format that the membership has found very congenial over the years: a) papers are circulated (and read) in advance; b) at the conference they are introduced by a discussant (rather than the author); c) the author is only given limited time to react to the discussant's presentation so as to leave more room for a general discussion. Since it is assumed that all papers have been read in advance, we avoid summaries and go straight to the discussion! Thus, accepting a place on the program entails a commitment to complete the paper in time for others to read it and to come prepared to discuss papers. Equally, participants may expect to serve as discussant for another paper, and to open the floor with an incisive and fair assessment of its strengths and weaknesses. Completed papers are due July 1, 2007 and circulated to conference participants via the conference website.
The presence of a large number of international experts in social policy creates a special opportunity for junior researchers and graduate students to present their research for discussion. As part of the conference design, we will organize special mentoring sessions to match new researchers with senior scholars working in related areas. PhD candidates are invited to submit papers for these dedicated sessions but can apply for the regular sessions as well.
Sheila Shaver (University of New South Wales) will be responsible for the Mentoring Program.
Rama V. Baru, Jawaharlal Nebru University, New Delhi (India)
Bob Deacon, Sheffield University, (UK)
Ana Marta Guillén, University of Oviedo (Spain)
Maurizio Ferrera, Università Statale Milan (Italy)
Huck-ju Kwon, Sung Kyun Kwan University (Korea)
Francie Lund, University of KwaZulu-Natal (South Africa)
Ann Shola Orloff, Northwestern University (USA)
Ito Peng, University of Toronto (Canada)
Manuel Riesco, CENDA (Chile)
Daniel Titleman, CEPAL, U.N.
Wim van Oorschot, Tilburg University (The Netherlands)