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FP7

WSF Report Summary

Project ID: 618106
Funded under: FP7-SSH
Country: Netherlands

Periodic Report Summary 2 - WSF (Welfare State Futures)

Project Context and Objectives:
Since 2004 the NORFACE Network has proved itself as a successful coordinated common action of currently sixteen national research funding agencies. NORFACE (New Opportunities for Research Funding Agency Cooperation in Europe) has offered unique opportunities for participating funding agencies by developing common research funding instruments, thus creating opportunities for facilitating and building new networks of research collaboration in the social sciences. Major achievements up until now have been four transnational initiatives: three rounds of the NORFACE Seminar Series in 2005, 2006 and 2007, the pilot research programme “Re-emergence of Religion as a Social Force in Europe?” (€ M 5,4) in 2006 and the transnational research programme “Migration in Europe - Social, Economic, Cultural and policy Dynamics” (€ M 23) in 2008 and more recently, the Welfare State Futures Programme (€ M 18). These programmes are in line with the ideas of the European Research Area. By strengthening and promoting co-operation amongst member organisations, NORFACE is contributing to the realisation of the European Research Area in the Social Sciences.

The development of welfare systems was one of the defining characteristics of the 20th century, especially in Europe. However, in times of change, it is important to re-think 'the welfare state'. The title of the NORFACE ERA-NET Plus programme “Welfare State Futures” emphasizes that the future is not pre-determined. Countries have choices about how to respond to economic and social challenges, and their choices will shape the future of their welfare states. Research on the welfare state is a well-developed field in social science, based on various theoretical approaches and a long tradition of comparative studies. However, the aim of this programme call is to encourage innovative thinking: to stimulate novel research questions, to orient research towards the future, and to bring disciplines together in collective and comparative projects. In these ways, it hopes to foster theoretical, conceptual and methodological innovation.

The programme is funded by fifteen NORFACE partners, the Swedish council Forte and the European Commission. With nineteen million euro from the research programme ‘Welfare State Futures’ NORFACE has funded fifteen transnational research projects that have started in 2015. The fifteen teams with 59 principal investigators will be researching topics ranging from health inequalities, globalisation, families, migration and social security rights, to citizens’ support for the welfare state. In these projects, researchers from a wide variety of disciplines are working together across Europe, from Slovenia to Norway and Estonia to Portugal, and will look beyond Europe too. Professor Ellen M. Immergut has been appointed as Scientific Programme Coordinator.

The fifteen transnational projects approach this relevant theme from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. The aim of the transnational and interdisciplinary projects is to analyse the societal, economic, political and legal contexts in which the welfare state will develop in the future and to understand better the logic of its evolution. By doing so they enable and encourage multi-disciplinary research and offer a fruitful European approach, with opportunities for comparison. The Welfare State Futures research programme will advance globally excellent research which holds the promise of theoretical, methodological and empirical advance.

The programme also seeks to promote research-based knowledge and insight which has societal, practical and policy relevance. This programme includes work in a variety of social science disciplines, including demography, economics, education, human geography, law, political science, political theory, psychology, social policy and sociology. The programme has an open approach to research, encourages inter-disciplinary and comparative analysis, with micro-macro-level analyses and inter-linkages between thematic fields. While the focus is on the European experience, the programme also looks outside of Europe to understand better European future developments.

The programme is unique and constitutes a step change in scale and scope for social sciences research programming on Welfare State Futures. Furthermore, by discussing national and international strategic initiatives, developing mechanisms to exploit data and by co-ordinating a joint approach, NORFACE contributes to the developments of a European data infrastructure for the Social Sciences.

Project Results:
The activities performed in Phase 2 (01-09-2014/29-02-2016) of the NORFACE Welfare State Futures ERA NET Plus programme cover all actions from the point of funding the projects to the first mid-term reports. The Network’s activities have been coordinated through a series of Work Packages (WP) in the first reporting period:

- WP 4 Negotiations and start of the funded WSF Projects
This work package involved the start of the projects selected for funding, the negotiations required for this, and clear information for those involved regarding their duties in the programme.

- WP 5 Programme Director, knowledge transfer and communication of WSF
This work package focussed on the knowledge transfer strategy, communication and dissemination and the appointment of the Programme Director (title changed to Scientific Programme Coordinator). In this period, a Scientific Programme Coordinator was selected and appointed, as well as a knowledge exchange advisory committee. The first dissemination and communication from the projects and the programme took place, and the programme partners prepared to fully utilise the capacities of the programme in this respect in the following periods.

The NORFACE Welfare State Futures objectives have been formulated in the Description of Work and activities to reach those objectives have been pursued and successfully carried out. The following achievements towards the objectives can be reported:
- To ensure the effective start of NORFACE projects, with proper contracting arrangements and clear information for all NORFACE project teams about their reporting duties (WP4).
- To ensure good communication within projects, and stimulate knowledge transfer of the results of the work to relevant parties (WP5).

Potential Impact:
The programme is funded by fifteen NORFACE partners, the Swedish council Forte and the European Commission. With nineteen million euro from the research programme ‘Welfare State Futures’ NORFACE has funded fifteen transnational research projects that have started in the autumn of 2015 and early 2016. The fifteen teams with 59 principal investigators are researching topics ranging from health inequalities, globalisation, families, migration and social security rights, to citizens’ support for the welfare state. In these projects, researchers from a wide variety of disciplines are working together across Europe, from Slovenia to Norway and Estonia to Portugal, and are looking beyond Europe too.
The fifteen transnational projects approach this relevant theme from a variety of perspectives and disciplines. The aim of the transnational and interdisciplinary projects is to analyse the societal, economic, political and legal contexts in which the welfare state will develop in the future and to understand better the logic of its evolution. By doing so they enable and encourage multi-disciplinary research and offer a fruitful European approach, with opportunities for comparison. The Welfare State Futures research programme will advance globally excellent research which holds the promise of theoretical, methodological and empirical advance.
The programme also seeks to promote research-based knowledge and insight which has societal, practical and policy relevance. This programme includes work in a variety of social science disciplines, including demography, economics, education, human geography, law, political science, political theory, psychology, social policy and sociology. The programme has an open approach to research, encourages inter-disciplinary and comparative analysis, with micro-macro-level analyses and inter-linkages between thematic fields. While the focus is on the European experience, the programme also looks outside of Europe to understand better European future developments.
The programme is unique and constitutes a step change in scale and scope for social sciences research programming on Welfare State Futures. Furthermore, by discussing national and international strategic initiatives, developing mechanisms to exploit data and by co-ordinating a joint approach, NORFACE contributes to the developments of a European data infrastructure for the Social Sciences.

List of Websites:
https://welfarestatefutures.org/about/

Contact

Renée Van Kessel-Hagesteijn, (Director NWO-Social Sciences)
Tel.: +31 703440902
E-mail
Record Number: 189408 / Last updated on: 2016-09-20
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