According to all projections, in the coming decades Europe’s role in the global economy will diminish considerably. Against the backdrop of demographic ageing, and a decreasing working age population, such decline will further reduce public institutions’ capacities to address citizens’ social needs adequately. As is well-known, welfare state expansion came to halt long ago and was replaced by a range of austerity policies that – far from promoting economic growth and prosperity – have had a dramatic impact, especially in countries most affected by the crisis. While prospects appear extremely gloomy in such countries, new avenues need to be pursued by all, even the better-off countries.
Hitherto, the social policy literature has focussed largely on endogenous variables and/or short-term factors (i.e. the great recession and austerity); but growing external pressures and emerging long-term issues are exposing social protection systems to a variety of new challenges that can hardly be ignored. Population aging, increasing migration flows, the technological revolution, changing value chain structures at the global level – just to mention a few examples – are deeply and rapidly changing Western (and non-Western) societies with crucial repercussions on social needs. In some countries the politico-institutional context is more responsive, but new demands generally face great difficulties in getting onto the political agenda, because of the predominant inclination toward cutting public budgets while at the same time addressing especially old social risks, due to corporatist pressures and bureaucratic inertia.
The eleventh ESPAnet-Italy annual conference intends to shed light on the complex mix of policy measures aimed at mitigating – across European countries and in the Italian context in particular -the typical industrial risks, plus those addressing the new social risks that are emerging in multi-ethnic, post-industrial societies.
The conference will be hosted by the University of Florence, at the “Polo delle Scienze Sociali” from 13 to 15 September, 2018.The local organizing committee suggests the following themes for session proposals:
– Financial sustainability and adequacy of social protection systems
– Advocating rights for “invisibles”
– Role, competences, and training of social workers in the face of current emergencies
– Globalization and changing labour markets and labour rights
– Social citizenship, multiethnic society, and the struggle against inequality
– Technological innovation: challenges and opportunities for healthcare systems
– New trends and orientations in social inclusion policies
– Changes in poverty and inequality ten years afterthe Great Recession
– Family policies and life-course choices in a context of rising uncertainty
– Social policies in a long-term perspective
– The public-private welfare mix: actors, strategies, and prospects
– Solidarity, democracy, and competition
– The impact of technological change on social protection systems
– Aging populations and pension systems
– The European Union and national social protection systems