[CfP] Conference 2016 – Neoliberalism Working Group – Panel on Social Policy and Development

IIPPE 7th International Conference in Political Economy

‘Political Economy: International Trends and National Differences’

School of Economics & Management, University of Lisbon, Portugal

September 7-9, 2016

Call for Papers: Neoliberalism Working Group – Panel on Social Policy and Development – ‘Advancing Political Economy Analysis of Social Policy and Development in the Context of Contemporary Neoliberal Capitalist Crisis’

The recent surge over the last decade of research on social policy related issues in the non-OECD countries of Africa, Asia and Latin America has tended to be narrowly focused on targeted social protection and related donor-lobbied policy agendas. It has also been conducted within narrow methodological and theoretical perspectives, despite the rich political economy tradition that more generally underpins the field of social policy – social policy in this sense conceived as institutional systems of social provisioning that are integral to processes of social reproduction, distribution and redistribution, and to the maintenance and/or transformation of social relations. Conversely, while sophisticated political economy debates have been recently taking place about the demise of welfare states in Europe, or the failure to extend the truncated welfare state system in the US, these generally remain focused on the experience of OECD countries or a few additional middle-income countries. Indeed, even the exhaustive iterations of welfare regime typologies, as decisively reviewed and critiqued by Fine (2014) but unfortunately not put to rest, have largely bypassed most poorer countries (with some exceptions).

In the void, the mainstream narrative of a ‘revolution from the South’ has dominated, even among much of the more progressive or critical scholarship. This mostly refers, again, to the rise of targeted cash transfer schemes across the Global South, whose origins are hardly revolutionary and arguably not even Southern, and which remain within a quite narrow vision of social policy as residualist (and often quite conservative) approaches to welfare. In the current context of global crisis, there has been an increasing imperative for far more radical and transformative approaches to social policy, particularly given the (debated) limitations of many New Left governments and social movements to generate any significant or sustained degree of social and economic transformation. ‘Transformative’ in this sense refers to processes that alter social/power relations – whether these are based on class or other relevant social structures – as well as the socioeconomic and political structures that sustain these relations, in ways that result in substantially more progressive distributive and redistributive outcomes, as well as positive synergies for subsequent dynamics of development.

There have been notable exceptions to the mainstream narrative in this regard. Thandika Mkandawire seminally links foundational debates in social policy, particularly around issues of targeting versus universalism, with broader questions in the political economy of development. Ben Fine has also made important contributions with respect to combining the developmental welfare state and (public sector) system of provision approaches, as a more appropriate approach for analysing social policy within broader development contexts, particularly in relation to neoliberalism and financialisation, and as an alternative to the welfare regimes approach that has dominated political economy research in social policy since the 1990s. Critiques have been made of the mainstream social protection agenda more specifically, such as by Lena Lavinas or Alfredo Saad-Filho with respect to Latin America, or Jimi Adesina with respect to Africa.

This panel seeks to bolster these exceptions by encouraging an institutionalist political economy focus on social policy that privileges its gaze beyond the centres of global capitalism and towards the peripheries, with an aim to understand the transformative possibilities of social policy within the current phase of neoliberal capitalist crisis in its evolution as a global phenomenon. Papers are invited and encouraged to engage with questions about the political economy processes that constrain, block, undermine, or in some cases support the evolution of social policy (or social provisioning systems) in the Global South along more radical transformative paths.

The panel is organized under the auspices of the Neoliberalism Working Group.

Abstracts (500 words maximum) should be submitted by April 1, 2016. To submit your abstract, please go to the Electronic Proposal Form and carefully follow the instructions there. (All deadlines are listed at the link.). Be sure to select the Neoliberalism Working Group on the form, and start your abstract with “(panel Soc. Pol. & Dev.)”

For more general information about IIPPE, the working groups and the conference, please visit our website. For details on the panel, you can contact Andrew Fischer (fischer@iss.nl) and Charmaine Ramos (c.g.ramos@iss.nl).


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