Theme of the conference

The challenges of the welfare state increasingly assume a global dimension. The geography of production – no longer confined within the boundaries of national economies – transform at a rapid pace. Vast regions of western countries face a severe industrial desertification, in which new social risks proliferate. In face of powerful global financial markets, nation-states enact austerity measures that restrict the capacities of welfare systems to a significant extent. Poverty and conflicts in the Global South push millions of people to move for seeking prosperity and protection, with structural implications for cities of transit and settlement.

Thus, global changes flood cascade-like towards local communities. Understanding and coping with critical questions – including social exclusion, discrimination, various forms of inequalities, demographic change, and its consequences – can be hardly done without unpacking the global-local nexus behind them. Contextually, climate change has become the defining phenomenon of the last decades – then soliciting policies to preserve the well-being of those most vulnerable, fostering more sustainable ways of life and consumption, and unleashing new forms of social and political participation.

Within the context of such epochal challenges, public actors, third sector organizations, and civil society at large spur social innovations aimed at remove barriers to participation in society by adopting inclusive practices. A systemic shift in interpreting and dealing with critical welfare questions, however, is far from being accomplished – also due to complex policy-politics dynamics. Rooms for maneuver of (national and local) democratic institutions are indeed extremely narrow within new (global) power arenas. In turn, such limits breed mistrust, discontent, and hostility towards “old-style” politics – sentiments that are often embraced by political entrepreneurs pushing for an exclusionary vision of social cohesion.

These transformations go hand in hand with the heightening of territorial inequalities and thus cut across specific domains of social protection. Scholars and policy-makers are called to engage in a deep reflection on the connections, the impasses, and the conflicts between various levels of government, while advancing a vision of welfare as an investment on communities.

The ESPAnet Italia Annual Conference aims to encourage a debate on major global challenges and their impacts on local and national welfare policies, as well as on the protection of old and new social risks. Here is a non-exhaustive list of topics that prospect participants are invited to explore in their session proposals:

– The nexus between climate change and social policies
– The dilemma between codes of conduct and institutional mandates in social work
– Housing policies in cases of extreme deprivation
– Social innovation and co-production in various policy areas
– Anti-poverty policies in Italy and in comparative perspective
– Digitalization and work automation: The impact on workers’ rights and employment
– The transformations of Italian asylum governance following the 5SM-League government
– Gender policies and diversity management
– The European Union between austerity and social policies
– Participation and mutualism: civil society as a ‘policy-maker of last resort’?
– The welfare state as a ‘political battleground’
– The ‘Questione Meridionale’ between old challenges and new policies

Institutional collaborations and support

In collaboration with INVALSI, supporting member of ESPAnet Italia

With the sponsorship of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice
With the support of the Department of Philosophy and Cultural Heritage of Ca’ Foscari University of Venice

The event has been credited within the framework of the continuous training of social workers. The attendance to each day of the conference allows to obtain 7 training credits, of which 2 of a deontological kind. It is also possible to attend to single days of the conference and to obtain the relative credits.