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).
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.
I am very pleased to announce that the discussion forum on “new approaches in political economy” is now available here on the Socio-Economic Review website. The forum brings together essays by Bruno Amable, Aidan Regan, Sabina Avdagic, Lucio Baccaro on Jonas Pontusson, and myself on new developments within the field of (comparative) political economy. The forum is a continuation of our discussion started at the 2018 SASE Meeting in Kyoto. Or, per the abstract:
“The discussion on ‘New Approaches to Political Economy (PE)’ gives us a state-of-the-art overview of the main theoretical and conceptual developments within the concept of political economy. Thereby, it invites us to broaden our knowledge regarding manifold novel approaches, which make use of more complex methods to study the less stable, less predictable, but faster changing realities of smaller or bigger geographical regions. In this discussion forum, Amable takes a closer look on the nature of ‘conflict’ as well as the relationship between conflict and institutional change or stability. After stressing the relevance of comparative capitalism in general, Regan also zooms in on the political conflicts in comparative political economy from three different perspectives (electoral politics, organized interest groups and business-state elites), where he finds new avenues, tensions and research agendas are opening up. From a different perspective, Avdagic reviews the broad developments in the field of political economy with respect to the supply and demand side of redistributive policy. Thereafter, Baccaro and Pontusson sketch an alternative ‘growth model perspective’, which puts demand and distribution at the center of the analysis. Finally, Van der Zwan analyses the usefulness of financialization studies for the study of (comparative) political economy.”
Our panel on financialization and inequality at the Harvard Law School conference on money as a democratic medium can now be viewed on YouTube or below. Hear Gerald Epstein, Rana Foroohar, Rebecca Spang and yours truly speak on this important topic, under the inspired chairpersonship of Sandy Brian Hager.
For a recap of the conference and all other video presentations, follow this link.