Restructuring Public Sector and Social Intervention – the New Ways of Welfare Management Transforming Social Professions. Europe and Latin America in a Comparative Perspective
Following the crises of social welfare policy since the 1990s, and disregarding the specific configurations of national Welfare systems built in the post-WWI, governments of different countries have been undertaking the wide restructuring of their public sectors and social policies are undergoing significant rescaling processes. If the Southern European literature is rich on these reshaping trends and challenges, the Latin American research is currently dealing with these topics, according to the particular social, political and economic breakdowns. The scalar reorganisation of social policy management might be seen as an ambivalent outcome of welfare reforms aimed at contrasting the spread of urban poverty, rising economic and social inequalities, as well as cutting costs and devolving the burden of cuts to the local level, facing to new social demands within neoliberal strategies and after them.
This communication aims to contribute to the debate about public ‘social intervention models’ emerging in western European societies by recalling the evolution of Latin American countries, and by putting their ‘social development’ experience since the structural adjustment into analytical perspective with these concerns. Against the background of recent Argentinean experience, we seek to critically reflect on the institutional impact of these ‘referentials’ beyond the ‘post-neoliberal’ regimes of social organisation disseminated in this area. On the one hand, by regarding the frame of reference underlying the reforms of national public sector and the injunctions for a policy rescaling which involves the dynamics towards a ‘multilevel management’ of specific fields of public policies and the ‘contractualisation’ of social aids. On the other hand, by questioning their impact on social intervention and social workers, at the forefront of ‘targeted’ social policy strategies addressing ‘the social question’ (i.e. ‘monitoring’ social assistance devices and beneficiaries), and, namely at the local level, the constraining expressions of transformation of its public ways of management.