Globalization in Retreat? Welfare States amid Regional Turbulence

Call for papers and panel proposals 

The 2020 Annual Conference of the ISA RC 19

Globalization in Retreat? Welfare States amid Regional Turbulence

03-04 December 2020, National Taiwan University, Taiwan

Deadline for abstracts and panel proposals: 31 May 2020

The contemporary prevalence of globalization has posed a grave challenge for the welfare state on all fronts. This phenomenon has attracted much attention from the policymakers and social policy analysts across the globe. The debates have focused primarily on whether, and to what extent, globalization impacts social inequality and social policy in individual countries. One of the major controversies in these debates concern whether globalization has a positive or a negative effect on welfare state sustainability. While some authors maintain that globalization leads to a decline in both the welfare state and the state's regulatory capacities, others argue that the state actually expands social policy to support disadvantaged groups who bear the brunt of globalization.

The common starting point of these contrasted perspectives is the belief in the enduring influence of globalization on both public policy and human well-being. Yet, recent developments appear to challenge this consensus. Regional turbulences are beginning to generate counter-mobilizations that are calling globalization into question. Anti-immigrant sentiments have been contributing to the rise of populism in the past decade, of which the most spectacular event is the 2016 Brexit referendum in the UK. Meanwhile, the trade wars between China and the United States drag on, foreshadowing the ongoing and future competition between these two rival super powers. Social protests in Hong Kong further plague the already strained relations between China and the Western world. Trade protectionism and geo-political tensions are stirring the fear that the economic globalization of the post-war era may come to a halt. All these developments seem to indicate the advent of a new era in which the globalization as we knew it is facing a "great transformation." The impact of this "great transformation" on the welfare state remains to be examined.

Against this background, the 2020 annual conference of the Research Committee 19 (on Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy) of the International Sociological Association (RC19) invites contributions that assess the changing contexts of globalization and its backlash; and analyse the impacts of shifting global and local politics on contemporary social inequalities and social policies.

More specifically, we very much welcome theoretical and/or empirical contributions exploring how specific social programs interact with changing political, economic, and social settings traditionally associated with globalization. Beyond the theme of the conference, we also encourage the submission of contributions within the field of comparative social policy. Finally, it is a long tradition of RC19 to invite papers by both PhD students and early-career researchers and established scholars working in the field of welfare state and social policy analysis.

The RC19 annual meeting brings together international scholars in the fields of comparative and transnational social policy studies, encompassing a range of disciplines including sociology, social policy, political science, and economics. Beyond the specific themes outlined above, RC19 members present their ongoing work and new papers, even if they are not closely connected to the theme of the conference. All presenters must be members of RC19 by the time of the conference. To join, please contact our treasurer, Timo Fleckenstein.

Keynote speakers (confirmed):

Professor Ann Orloff, Northwestern University, United States

Professor Lutz Leisering, Bielefeld University, Germany

Professpr Huck-ju Kwon, Seoul National University, South Korea

Those wishing to present a paper should submit an abstract of about 250 words. Information enclosed with any abstract should include: stream number, title of paper; author name(s); affiliation(s); and email address of one corresponding author.

Submissions for the annual RC 19 conference should be sent to: The deadline for abstracts and panel proposals is 31 May 2020.

Important dates:
Submission of abstracts and panel proposals: 31 May 2020
Notification of applicants: 20 June 2020
Early booking & registration will start from 21 June 2020

Further details about the conference programme and venue will be announced shortly. For any queries, please contact Chung-Yang Yeh at Research Committee on Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy RC19 of the International Sociological Association (ISA) brings together an active and lively community from different fields of social sciences. The purpose is to promote theoretically grounded empirical research on: the sources and character of social problems; the planning and administration of social programmes; and more generally, public policies and intervention strategies aimed at alleviating social problems and influencing the society in that regard.