Children's Rights or Child Protection? Policy Translation and Institutional Change in Post-Soviet Kazakhstan

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 11 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Sofiya AN, Nazarbayev University, Kazakhstan
While much of conventional analyses of Western welfare states suffers from “methodological nationalism” (Wimmer & Glick Schiller 2002), the study of post-socialist social policy identified a crucial role of global policy actors early on (Deacon 2000). Post-Soviet social policy reform is often constructed as a replacement of ‘old’, Soviet policies with ‘new’, global, and, essentially, Western policies. Challenging this assumption, this paper applies an Agency, Structure, Institution, and Discourse (ASID) framework (Moulaert & Jessop 2006; Deacon & Stubbs 2013) to the study of the introduction and translation of the global children’s rights framework in the context of post-Soviet Kazakhstan. The main research question is as follows: What are the roles of transnational policy actors and global discourses in the post-Soviet child welfare transformation? Drawing upon key informant interviews conducted in 2012 and various texts, I examine the following dimensions of transnational social policy. First, I approach “agency” by identifying distinct roles and the relations of power and interdependence among three categories of transnational policy actors: (1) global organizations; (2) national state agencies; and (3) domestic NGOs.  Second, I look into competing and shifting policy discourses as the drivers of institutional change. While the Soviet child protection system was based on the premise of a paternalistic and benevolent state, a policy idea which I refer to as “Soviet welfarism”, the post-Soviet child welfare reform was driven by the children’s rights discourse transmitted by global policy actors through global policy instruments. My main argument is that the change in child welfare institutions was a function of the “embedded agency” of interdependent transnational policy actors who played distinct roles in the transmission and translation of global policy discourses.