Institut für Weltgesellschaft
Institute for World Society Studies
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Social Security as a Human Right. The Global Construction and Diffusion of Civic Minima.

(FLOOR = Financial Assistance, Land Policy, and Global Social Rights)

Funded by: German Research Foundation (DFG)

Principal Investigators:
  • Prof. Lutz Leisering, PhD,
  • Prof. Dr. Benjamin Davy,
  • Prof. Dr. Ulrike Davy

Project Duration: 2010 - 2015

Project Description:

Social policy and the welfare state – conceived as the formal adoption by government of a political responsibility for the well-being of its citizens – originated in European nation states. Can we expect a similar development on the global level, particularly if we consider the absence of a global government, cultural diversity and unrelenting economic globalization? We propose to inquire into the emergence of social policy, maybe even elements of welfare statism, on the global plane. Yet, what could ‘global social policy’ mean? What could ‘global’ mean in this context, and what could ‘the social’ mean on the global level? We choose social security as subfield of social policy to be investigated, focussing on the moral minimum – basic social security – as the test case of global social policy. Is there a global social minimum? Remarkably, three forms of basic social security have recently been gaining attention in world politics but are still under-researched: Social human rights, social cash transfers, and secure land rights for all. We examine the social construction and the global diffusion of the three kinds of basic social security from an interdisciplinary perspective (law, sociology, land policy), aiming to shed new light on some aspects of world culture theory and on the citizenship debate: Is basic social security part of world culture? Can we identify the rise of global social citizenship?

We are looking into global macro and micro policies at the interface of global, national, and sub-national actors, with a focus on processes of diffusion and the emergence of syncretic forms of policies. This includes an analysis of global politics as well as national case studies (in Bangladesh, China, Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America). Our approach is distinctly novel for its human rights study of basic social security (including the analysis of all state party reports under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights, CESCR, and an analysis of all Constitutions), for its analysis of social cash transfers in the global South, and for its examination of the relationship between social cash transfers and secure land rights for all.

Regarding methods, we use analysis of documents, expert interviews, participant observation, case studies; quantitative analysis of all state party reports under the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and multivariate analysis. Regarding theories, we draw on policy research, theories of social policy, theories of global social policy, theories of global diffusion and world society theory.