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ZiF Cooperation Group

The road to global social citizenship?

Human rights approaches to global social policy

April - June 2011

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


Historically, ‘social policy’ and the ‘welfare state’ are both self-descriptions of nation states that imply the assumption by governments of responsibility for individual welfare (F.-X. Kaufmann). Historically, these self-descriptions originated in Western European nation states. ‘Social policy’ and the ‘welfare state’ are rooted in 19th and 20th century thinking respectively, mainly British, German, and Scandinavian. The Cooperation Group strives to explore: Are the concepts (social policy, the welfare state, the Social) confined to a particular group of (European) states or can we presume that the concepts, or maybe just some basic elements of these concepts, are taken up on the global level as recently claimed by Bob Deacon? If the latter is indeed the case, what exactly is the content of ‘global social policy’? By ‘global’ we mean the spread of certain concepts and policies to countries worldwide as well as a new, global level of social organization which includes genuinely global actors, discourses, rights and policies, following the assumption of ‘world society’ theory (Niklas Luhmann, John W. Meyer, Bettina Heintz).

When investigating into these questions, we will not deal with the whole range of social protection (contribution-based social insurance; universal social services; social assistance). We are interested in what we (and, increasingly, international organizations like the ILO) call the ‘social floor’, i.e. a civic minimum for all, enabling each human being to live a decent life. We believe that, very recently, three different and still unrelated strands of policies became interested in the ‘social floor’, namely human rights advocacy, global social policies promoting social cash transfers, and socio-ecological land policy advancing access to land. In order to analyse and theorize these recent developments, we want to combine our own expertise in human rights law, social policy, and land policy (stemming from the three disciplines represented by the applicants) with the expertise of eminent scholars from around the world to be invited to stay at the ZiF. These scholars share the various disciplinary backgrounds of the applicants (law, sociology, land policy). The main (innovative) task of the group is to look for elements connecting human rights, social policy and land policy as well as to look for overarching theoretical concepts. This will include three focus areas: The first area is concerned with the consequences of human rights for social policy (what are the ‘social’ obligations deriving from social rights). In the second area we investigate the notion of global social policy (the ‘global social’ as constructed by global actors and discourses). In the third area we seek to explore: Is the human right to a civic minimum (facilitated through cash transfers or access to land) the core of an evolving global social citizenship, what are the elements of that kind of citizenship, and what is its function within the global architecture?





Wednesday, 18.05.2011, 19.30h
Öffentlicher Vortrag, Plenarsaal des ZiF
Manfred Nowak (Wien): Folter im 21. Jahrhundert: Erfahrungen des UNO-Sonderberichterstatters über Folter
Tuesday, 07.06.2011, 18h c.t., Hauptgebäude der Universität, Raum U5-211
Sony Pellissery (Anand): Corruption and Citizenship
Vortrag im Rahmen der Reihe "Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft" des Instituts für Weltgesellschaft
Tuesday, 14.06.2011, 18h c.t., Hauptgebäude der Universität, Raum U5-211
Hartley Dean (London): Reflections on Human Needs and Social Rights: Towards Global Social Responsibility?
Vortrag im Rahmen der Reihe "Signaturen der Weltgesellschaft" des Instituts für Weltgesellschaft