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The New Politics of Welfare: Towards an “Emerging Markets” Welfare State Regime

Periodic Reporting for period 4 - EmergingWelfare (The New Politics of Welfare: Towards an “Emerging Markets” Welfare State Regime)

Reporting period: 2021-07-01 to 2021-12-31

Can we say that emerging market economies are developing a new welfare regime? If so, what has caused this? This multimethod and interdisciplinary project seeks to answer these questions by investigating the politics of contemporary welfare state development in emerging market economies. It builds separate databases for welfare (glow.ku.edu.tr) and political protests (glocon.ku.edu.tr) and employs quantitative, qualitative and comparative methods to describe and explain the politics of welfare in select emerging markets, namely Argentina, Brazil, China, India, South Africa and Turkey.
The project is based on the idea that this welfare development in emerging markets is not only a quantitative expansion, but it corresponds to a radical qualitative shift in the history of the welfare state. The project argues that (i) emerging markets are forming a new welfare regime that differs from welfare regimes of the Global North on the basis of expansive and decommodifying social assistance programs for the poor (Hypothesis 1) and (ii) this new welfare regime is emerging principally as a response to the growing political power of the poor as a dual source of threat and support for governments (Hypothesis 2).
The project’s first contribution is to the existing welfare regimes literature. This literature radically slanted towards Western or OECD countries. This project illustrates the contemporary global welfare state regime structure where emerging markets join as separate clusters. The project’s second contribution is to the contemporary welfare state development literature. The welfare state development literature, especially in the non-west, has been dominated by structuralist explanations, underestimating the effect of political factors—particularly grassroots politics. The project shows that these political causes have determined the actual trajectory of welfare policy changes. The project generates computational, quantitative and qualitative comparative data on welfare and politics and shows this welfare state expansion is caused by particular changes in grassroots politics.
The project will show that the poor are not passive victims of recent economic transformations but instead are active political agents that shape welfare policies. Thus, the project does not only take us beyond the state-of-the-art of welfare state studies but is also highly politically and socially relevant. As a result, the social and political problems most strongly occasioned by emerging markets may prevail in Europe as a permanent political crisis. Hence, if the political power of the poor leads to a new welfare regime, it can be expected that similar dynamics lead to the development of similar welfare policies across Europe, as well.
The Emerging Welfare Project has resulted in groundbreaking scientific development in the fields of the welfare state, social movements, and computational social sciences. My project has resulted in a very large welfare state database (glow.ku.edu.tr) and protests events database (glocon.ku.edu.tr) as proposed in the GA. Following the release of the GLOW dataset (glow.ku.edu.tr) in 2020, which is currently the largest welfare state dataset of its kind, EMW has delivered the largest and state-of-the-art AI-based automated protest event dataset (Global Contentious Politics Dataset – GLOCON – glocon.ku.edu.tr) about the developing world. The EMW Project has successfully delivered a large number of scientific outputs beyond what was envisioned and planned in the project proposal. In the GA, I proposed to deliver the 6 journal articles. By the end of the project period, the project has produced 37 publications. In addition, 17 more articles are currently under review and in progress. My first book, which is about the politics of welfare in Turkey, is forthcoming from the University of Michigan Press and its Turkish translation from the İletişim Press. The book manuscript, which will encapsulate all the findings of the project is also in progress.

We used the GLOW database in an article published at the top social policy journal, JESP, where we show four distinct global welfare state regime clusters: institutional, neoliberal, populist and residual. (Yörük, Öker and Tafoya, 2022). This article confirmed the first hypothesis of the ERC project. EMW project has produced a series of publications that confirm the second hypothesis of the project. The project has shown that in there is a global pattern of social welfare programs being used as counter-insurgency and that this strategy is a key driving force behind the welfare state expansion in the Global South, given the escalation of protest movements and violent conflict. We show that in India, South Africa, Turkey, China, Brazil, geographically, culturally and historically distant emerging markets are converging into a new welfare state regime as a result of shared political dynamics.
The combination of computational, quantitative and qualitative methods is unprecedented in comparative research and seeks to open up new horizons for social sciences and also computational social sciences. The GLOW dataset is currently the largest and most comprehensive welfare state dataset in terms of geographical scope, temporal range and quantity/quality of indicators. Before GLOW, globally oriented welfare scholars were devoid of real welfare policy variables, and they tended to use developmental outcome variables as a proxy. This has created serious validity problems and has made difficult to conduct global comparative welfare studies. GLOW dataset overcomes this problem by broadening the geographical, theoretical and empirical scope of the literature. The Glocon Dataset and the methodology behind are genuinely ground-breaking and beyond the state-of-the-art. The dataset is currently the largest and most reliable protest events dataset on emerging market economies. It is entirely based on fully automated methods, making it the most technologically advanced, valid and extensive protest data collection in the literature. We develop fully automated tools for document classification, sentence classification, and detailed protest event information extraction that will perform in a multi-source, multi-context protest event setting with consistent performances of recall and precision for each country context. In order to cope with the challenges of developing generalizable tools that can handle source heterogeneity, we designed the tool development process to incorporate sources from multiple contexts. The article at the JESP establishes that when global data (GLOW) is used, emerging markets make up a distinct welfare state regime and illustrates a new global welfare regime structure. Our article enables the incorporation of developing countries from all around the world into the scholarship of welfare regimes in a comparative manner. Therefore, I expect this publication to foster a new wave of global welfare regime studies. The large number of articles that examine the political drivers of this Populist Welfare State Regime development, illustrate that there is a global pattern of the use of welfare programs to contain social unrest. This ground-breaking observation of a global pattern establishes that it is impossible to grasp welfare state development in the global south without considering welfare as counter-insurgency.
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