Universalism: Past, Present and Possible Futures
RC19 Sociology of Poverty, Social Welfare and Social Policy
We propose a session critically examining the role and place of universalism in contemporary political economy, comparative social policy and social movement literature. The aim of this session is to bring together scholars interested in the idea of universalism from different disciplinary angles. The rationale for proposing such a session reflects profound dissatisfaction with disciplinary boundaries that lead scholars to ignore how political economy, welfare state and social movement literature are thoroughly interrelated.
'The apparent demise’ of universalism underlying welfare capitalism and the fragmentation of both political movements and national party politics raise serious questions about the viability of social scientific theories rooted in this ethos. Conversely, theorists steeped in universalism, such as Karl Polanyi, have never been more popular. The cross-disciplinary panel welcomes both theoretical and empirical contributions engaging these challenging issues. The following questions provide more specific insight into the goals of the panel:
Is the apparent fragmentation and individualization fostered by neoliberalism, itself, universal, or rather is this fragmentation a reflection of a broader counter-movement in response to decades of liberalization?
Is the quest for a ‘new universalism’ fostered by rising social movements in various parts of the globe a reaction to welfare state retrenchment and increased conditionality?
What is the relationship between ideological and organizational fragmentation and universal attitudes concerning resultant ideologies?
Is there the possibility to renew a universalistic ethos beyond Keynesianism and neoliberalism?
How have social/economic conditions changed and how have these changes contributed to the possibility of universal politics or progressive economic reforms?
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