As part of the Research Committee 19‘s
programme at 3rd ISA Forum in Vienna, Professor Max Koch and Dr Mi Ah Schoyen, organised a session entitled ‘Sustainable Welfare: Perspectives, Policies and Emerging Practices’
Welfare research has had little contact with scholarship on ecological sustainability. In the post-war circumstances, Western welfare states were built on institutional compromises around issues of equity and socio-economic (re-)distribution. Growing capitalist economies were presupposed to finance welfare services, especially via taxation of the primary incomes of employers and employees. While the bulk of the current welfare literature gravitates around the crisis of these welfare arrangements and corresponding recalibrations, ecological concerns such as climate change keep being largely ignored. Meanwhile, sustainability and degrowth researchers have demonstrated that, on a finite planet, Western production and consumption patterns cannot be generalized globally. An institutional compromise for a sustainable welfare society would therefore need to go beyond existing welfare types. We lack a theoretical concept of and interdisciplinary research into ‘sustainable welfare’, which is located at the global level and in which environmental and intergenerational concerns are systematically accounted for, and ideas for policies towards the establishment of corresponding welfare systems at national and local levels.
The session asks what it requires to make welfare societies ecologically sustainable. It regards the current financial, economic and political crisis and the corresponding adjustments in existing welfare state institutions as an impetus to also consider environmental concerns. We particularly invite papers that
- Develop theoretical perspectives relevant for a concept of sustainable welfare;
- Assess policy outputs and outcomes that facilitate synergies between sustainability and welfare policies;
- Identify (emerging) practices of sustainable welfare in different parts of the world and/or different levels of governance.