Varieties of Social Governance in Europe: The Social Partners’ Role in Pension and Labour Market Policies
The social partners - employer associations and trade unions - play an important role in many European welfare states. The comparative research project studied their role in the social governance, particularly in policy making and implementation. Comparing different welfare regimes, it mapped the different modes of social governance in two social policy areas: in old age security (public and private pension systems) and in labour market policy (unemployment insurance and labour offices). Based on country studies of selected western European welfare regimes, the project analyzed the different governance forms and their impact on and dependence from the reform processes over the last two decades. The project investigated whether these changes followed the path-dependent institutional traditions or whether we can detect systemic institutional changes. Although the role of social partners had been deeply institutionalized in the Bismarckian social insurance and Nordic labour market policy areas, the social governance in these countries has become object of considerable meta-reforms over the last two decades, particularly where self-administration had led to reform blockages. Several contributions and articles were published on the role of social partners in the social governance of pension and employment policy fields. In addition, a case study on social governance in labour market policy was conducted for an international project organized by AIAS, University of Amsterdam. Finally, a research proposal on "Non-employment in Europe: A comparative analysis of social risk groups in household contexts" was developed and first comparative analyses with ELFS, GSOEP, and BHPS were presented at international conferences and workshops. Since September 2011 the project is continued with funding by the DFG as project A1.3 in the 8th research programme.