Center for Interdisziplinary Research

ZiF Workshop

Understanding Southern Welfare - The B(R)ICS Countries

Date: 24 - 26 November 2014

Convenors: Ulrike Davy (Bielefeld, GER), Lutz Leisering (Bielefeld, GER) and Benjamin Davy (Dortmund, GER)

In Western Europe, the twentieth century was, amongst others, the century of the expansion of social policy and the rise of the welfare state. Will the twenty-first century be characterised by a marked expansion of state-provided individual welfare in the global South and, if so, what would social welfare look like, in particular, how would Southern welfare be framed from the perspective of underlying ideas and concepts? The ZiF Arbeitsgemeinschaft proceeded from the assumption that the social commitments of a country encapsulate basic ideas that guide policy making. Those ideas might be contested and negotiated, and they might change over time. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft focused on developments taking place in Brazil, India, China and South Africa over the last decades. Brazil, India, China and South Africa seem to take the political lead in the global South, also with regard to modelling social protection. The Arbeitsgemeinschaft started out from a tentative and broad notion of 'social protection'. Social protection was meant to include state-provided or state-regulated security in the case of sickness, old-age, industrial accident, unemployment, need of long-term care, parenthood, or other contingencies of life (benefits in cash or in kind), but also forms of security provided through state-organised access to land. How is 'social protection' construed in these various fields, what is the role of social protection, who are the actors driving for social protection, what is the bearing of colonial or other legacies? Experts from Brazil, India, China and South Africa engaged in a dialogue from the angle of law, sociology, and land policy. The main outcome of this first round of encounters aimed at understanding Southern welfare was that some underlying ideational assumptions are indeed similar in Brazil, India, China and South Africa, e.g., the assumption that the needs of urban populations are distinct from rural populations; work ethics and deservingness seem to be important determinants for state-led social plans and programs; notions of graded or categorized equality seem to lead to distinct forms of targeting. Finally, mobilization from below seems one of the most important drivers for changes in Southern welfare. Participants of the Arbeitsgemeinschaft agreed that the ideational foundations of Southern welfare need further investigation, in particular from a comparative and historical perspective.


Tobias Böger (Bielefeld, GER), Reghard Brits (Stellenbosch, RSA), Albert Chen Hung-yee (Hongkong, CHN), Nina-Claire Himpe (Bielefeld, GER), Niraja G. Jayal (Neu Delhi, IND), Alexandra Kaasch (Bielefeld, GER), Franz-Xaver Kaufmann (Bonn, GER), Sandra Liebenberg (Stellenbosch, RSA), Tao Liu (Bielefeld, GER), Marcus André Melo (Recife, BRA), James Midgley (Berkeley, USA), Gabriel Ondetti (Springfield, USA), Sony Pellissery (Bangalore, IND), Jeremy Seekings (Kapstadt, RSA), Sarbani Sen (Neu Delhi, IND), Shih-Jiunn Shi (Taipei, TWN), André J. van der Walt (Stellenbosch, RSA), Sue-Mari Viljoen (Pretoria, RSA), Yitu Yang (Dortmund, GER), Augusto Zimmermann (Murdoch, AUS)

Conference Programme (PDF)

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