Universalism or Universalisms in Social Policies?

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 10:30-12:20
RC19 Sociology of Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy (host committee)

Language: English

States are generally supposed to provide universal basic services such as health care or a minimum standard of living. The session takes the term “universal” under scrutiny. How “universal” are universal pensions, cash transfers or health insurances? As recent work (e.g., Anttonen and Sipilä 2014; Martínez Franzoni and Sánchez-Ancochea 2014; Devereux 2016) suggests, universalism means many things. This has led to the creation of the paradoxical term “universalisms” suggesting that “universalism” requires definition with regard to its reach. Indeed, most “universal” programs are based on criteria of inclusion and exclusion, for example age or citizenship for old-age pensions or targeting criteria for cash transfers or health fee exemptions.

The proposed session takes the term “universal” to discussion: What types of universalisms are there? Who is included, who is excluded and how are these criteria legitimated? How do these “universalisms” relate to issues of legitimacy justice and social citizenship? Do they exert unjust power or are they legitimate? To what extent do such exclusion criteria or mechanisms represent structural violence towards vulnerable people? The session is interested in the analyses of social policies and their effects as well as the mechanisms through which social policies and “universal services” work and legitimize their limitations. It especially welcomes contributions from and on the Global South.


Session Organizers:
Daniel KÜNZLER, University of Fribourg, Switzerland and Monica BUDOWSKI, University of Fribourg, Switzerland
Oral Presentations
Searching for Normative Grounds of the Universal Welfare State
Huck-Ju KWON, Gradatue School of Public Administration, Seoul National University, Republic of Korea; Hyojung KIM, Korea Educational Development Institute, South Korea
Economic Principles, Implementation and Results of Universalist and Focused Social Policies in Latin America.
Cristina GOMES, Facultad Latinoamericana de Ciencias Sociales, FLACSO Mexico, Mexico
Asian Challenges to the Universal Coverage; The (Im) Possible Dream?
Shin YAMADA, Hiroshima Shudo University, Japan
From Universalisms to Universalism or Vice Versa? Finnish Social Assistance Reform and the Equality of Citizens
Paula SAIKKONEN, National Institute for Health and Welfare, Finland; Minna YLIKÄNNÖ, Social Insurance Institution of Finland, Finland