Project

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The emergence of the “crisis of the welfare state”: a social and transnational history (1970s-1980s)

Applicant Leimgruber Matthieu
Number 121611
Funding scheme Ambizione
Research institution Département d'Histoire économique Faculté des sciences économiques et sociales Université de Genève
Institution of higher education University of Geneva - GE
Main discipline General history (without pre-and early history)
Start/End 01.04.2009 - 31.03.2012
Approved amount 333'781.00
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Keywords (9)

welfare state; Western Europe; transnational; 1970s; 1980s; neo-liberalism; business; social history; insurance markets

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
This research project aims to study transnational social policy debates held between the early 1970s to the late 1980s in Western Europe. In this context, I will study how postwar conceptions of welfare state expansion were questioned and challenged during the recession of the 1970s and progressively supplanted by conceptions stressing the “crisis of the welfare state” and the need for its reform. Widely termed as a neo-liberal turn, this new paradigm of social policy development encompassed both retrenchment and the redrawing of the boundaries between state and private-based forms of social provision.To underline the transnational dimensions of this shift, my investigation will be conducted in the archives of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as private lobbies, interest groups, and think tanks that propagated these new conceptions. Using archives that have recently been made available for research purposes, I aim to retrace the social history of these institutions and organizations, as well as the scope of their intellectual production and advocacy activities. By utilizing prosopography (group biography) methods, I will write a social history of the experts' networks that constituted the nodes for the formation of these new social policy conceptions as well as their diffusion across national borders.This research project will also investigate how these shifts in social policy paradigms can be related to ongoing transformations of European insurance markets. I will study in particular the involvement of the private sector in social provision at both the national and international levels during two decades characterized by the intensification of cross-border insurance activities. Such interactions between social insurance and private forms of social provision are seldom studied together in social policy research.By underlining the intersections between financial sector transformations and the emergence of a new transnational consensus on the need for social policy reform, I hope to bring new understandings of the social and economic foundations of ideas and policies that have left a significant imprint in late 20th and early 21st century European societies.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
The historical roots of a diffusion process. The three-pillar doctrine and European pension debates, 1972-1994
Leimgruber Matthieu (2012), The historical roots of a diffusion process. The three-pillar doctrine and European pension debates, 1972-1994, in Global Social Policy, 12(1), 24-44.
The embattled standard-bearer of social insurance and its challenger : the ILO, the OECD, and the «crisis of the welfare state», 1975-1985
Leimgruber Matthieu, The embattled standard-bearer of social insurance and its challenger : the ILO, the OECD, and the «crisis of the welfare state», 1975-1985, in S. Kott & J Droux (ed.), Palgrave, Basingstoke.

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
136306 Patterns of transnational regulation: how networks and institutions shaped societies and markets throughout the 20th C. 01.02.2012 Sinergia
140484 A Global History of Export Processing Zones (1947-2007), continued 01.08.2012 Project funding (Div. I-III)
108985 The Business of Social Policy. Commercial Insurers and the Development of Welfare States in Comparative Perspective (1890-1970) 01.09.2005 Fellowships for advanced researchers

Abstract

This research project aims to study transnational social policy debates held between the early 1970s to the late 1980s in Western Europe. In this context, I will study how postwar conceptions of welfare state expansion were questioned and challenged during the recession of the 1970s and progressively supplanted by conceptions stressing the “crisis of the welfare state” and the need for its reform. Widely termed as a neo-liberal turn, this new paradigm of social policy development encompassed both retrenchment and the redrawing of the boundaries between state and private-based forms of social provision.To underline the transnational dimensions of this shift, my investigation will be led in the archives of international and non-governmental organizations, as well as private lobbies, interest groups, and think tanks that propagated these new conceptions. Using archives that have recently been made available for research purposes, I aim to retrace the social history of these institutions and organizations, as well as the scope of their intellectual production and advocacy activities. Thanks to prosopography (group biography) methods, I will write a social history of the experts' networks that constituted the nodes for the formation of these new social policy conceptions as well as their diffusion across national borders.This research project will also investigate how these shifts in social policy paradigms can be related to ongoing transformations of European insurance markets in the post 1970 period. During these decades characterized by anintensification of cross-border insurance activities, I will study the increasing involvement of the private sector in social provision at both the national and international levels. Interactions between social insurance and private forms of social provision are two domains that are seldom studied together in social policy research.By underlining the intersections between financial sector transformations and the emergence of a new transnational consensus on the need for social policy reform, I hope to bring new understandings of the social and economic foundations of ideas and policies that have left a significant imprint in late 20th and early 21st century European societies.
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