Together with Jeanne Lazarus and Daniel Mertens, I am organizing a mini-conference on The Welfare State in Financial Times for the 2020 SASE conference in Amsterdam (July 18-20). Paper abstracts can be submitted from November 25, 2019 until January 10, 2020.
In this mini-conference, we hope to explore the complicated new ways in which social and financial policies have become entangled in contemporary welfare states. Particularly, we are interested in the question of how processes of financialization are shaping welfare state development. On the one hand, the contributions to the mini-conference would map the ongoing financialization of the welfare state in contemporary political economies, both historically and comparatively, by focusing on the introduction and expansion of financial tools and mechanisms in public and private welfare provision. On the other hand, we welcome contributions that study how welfare states and other social groupings have debated and introduced new public policies and financial tools that promise to protect against growing financial risks in everyday life. Looking at these promises of protections through the market requires a fundamentally different understanding of the nature of the welfare state than the scholarship’s traditional focus on decommodification.
This mini-conference has several aims. First, we hope to reintegrate scholarship on welfare and finance to come to a better understanding of how the welfare state and the financial system are mutually intertwined, both historically and comparatively. Second, we hope to approach the mini-conference theme using a broader conception of finance: to include not just financial actors and their interest organizations, but also financial ideas and narratives, norms and practices that interact at different scales of the modern polity. Third, we would like to reflect on how the use of financial tools can be considered as a tool to protect household living standards and economic stability. Finally, we hope our mini-conference forms the basis of new conceptualization of welfare state development under financialized capitalism.
We welcome papers with varied disciplinary backgrounds discussing the following issues:
- Variations of finance-welfare interactions across political economies and over time;
- Lineages and linkages of institutional/ideational change in social policy areas and financial systems;
- State experiments with financial and technological innovations to fund and manage welfare programs;
- Political coalitions undergirding or confronting the welfare-finance nexus;
- The distributional and political effects of financial market-based social policies, particularly on class, gender, and race;
- The relationship between financialization and contemporary paradigms of social policy analysis such as marketization, privatization and social investment;
- Histories and narratives on the mutually constitutive nature of the financial system and the welfare state;
- Conceptual and methodological discussions that offer new research strategies to study financialization within the welfare state.
More details can be found on the SASE website (scroll all the way down for our mini-conference).
For our course on social science research methods at the Institute of Public Administration (Leiden University), Alexandre Afonso and I have created a flipped classroom with blended learning, in which we reversed the traditional set-up of a university course. Basic knowledge transfer takes place via an online environment, where knowledge clips, reading materials and exercises are located. This has freed up class time for active learning exercises, through which students practice with new research methods and techniques. We have found that this course design improves students’ performance, because they gain a better experience of what it is like to do research.
We have described our experiences in the article “Activating the Research Methods Curriculum: The Blended Flipped Classroom,” which has now appeared in Vol. 52, No. 4 of PS: Political Science & Politics. When we designed this course four years ago, we were purposively looking for a form of education that was in line with our own experiences of the research process. And that was not the traditional way of teaching: listening to lectures, reading from a textbook. Our own experience as students-turned-scholars was that real-life learning is a matter of doing, which usually means muddling through, making mistakes along the way, and sharpening your skills accordingly. So we decided to design a course in which this type of learning-by-doing research is central, facilitated by the new possibilities that online educational resources bring to the university classroom: the blended flipped classroom.
We hope that our experience might inspire others to undertake similar projects, while also offering guidance on how to do this effectively and efficiently. Setting up a blended flipped classroom takes time, technical skills, and at times a thick skin when encountering resistance from students and colleagues. We describe how designed and implemented our blended flipped classroom, including the mistakes we have made along the way. We also share a few active learning exercises that we have used in our course and that other teachers may find useful as well.
Click here to learn more about our article, to receive extra information on how we experienced designing and teaching a blended flipped classroom, and to find some active-learning exercises that we have used in this course.
I’m currently one of three candidates nominated to replace Julia Moses as co-chair of the CES Political Economy and Welfare Research Network. As requested, I had written a few words on my vision for the network, when offering my candidacy. If you’re a member of this network and the ideas below appeal to you, please vote for me! Voting is possible until Wednesday, October 23.
“The strengths of our network are its openness to theoretical and methodological pluralism as well as its broad comparative approach to the study of political economy and the welfare state. If elected co-chair of the Network, I would like to strengthen ongoing activities in the three focus areas of this network (education and social policies; the comparative political economy of regime formation and change; cross-border connections). At the same time, my own interdisciplinary research interests make me particularly well-suited to appeal to colleagues working on new approaches to political economy, including junior and emerging scholars. As our profession is rethinking its strong reliance on face-to-face meetings for scholarly exchanges, I’m interested in developing new and inclusive ways in which our members can engage with or participate in this network, such as through social media. I would also like to continue ongoing collaborations with other CES research networks, including those currently in formation. Having divided my professional life between the United States and the European continent, I feel particularly well-suited to foster the ongoing dialogue between our network’s members on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Philip Mader and I will be presenting (for the first time!) the introductory chapter for the Routledge International Handbook of Financialization, which we wrote together with Daniel Mertens, on May 23 in London. Our talk is part of a one-day workshop at the Open University, organized by Pauline Gleadle and Stuart Parris, on the conceptualization and operationalization of financialization.
More information, including the possibility to register for the workshop, can be found here.
I’m very happy to see the new edited volume by Dennie Oude Nijhuis, Business Interests and the Development of the Modern Welfare State, is coming out in July 2019. The volume offers “a synthesis on the question of business attitudes towards and its influence over the development of the modern welfare state.” Chapters consist of both historical country case studies and comparative chapters with country focus on Germany, Finland, the Netherlands, Switzerland, the United Kingdom and the United States. Policy aras covered include active labor market policies, educational policies, employment protection legislation, healthcare, private pension programs, and work‐family policies.
My own chapter in this volume explores how the financialization of the political economy during the last quarter of the 20th century has influenced business preferences for occupational pensions. I argue that capital funding has important ramifications for business preferences towards occupational pensions. With capital funding, the extent to which these plans can protect against the social risks associated with old age has become partially dependent on the financial risks stemming from capital funding. Financialization thus turns an influential argument in the business interests scholarship on its head, namely that, depending on size and industry, employers might be willing to incur higher risks to gain more control over social welfare provisions: as financialization reduces the possibilities for control over occupational pension provisions, employers will be more likely to adopt political preferences aimed at risk reduction. My argument builds on a comparative case study of business groups in the United States and the Netherlands.