THE GLOBAL NORTH - WELFARE POLICIES, MOBILITIES, INEQUALITIES, AND SOCIAL MOVEMENTS

Sessions

Session 1: Nordic welfare states and immigration

Session 2: Institutional Ethnography of welfare institutions

Sessions 3: Citizen Initiatives for Global Solidarity

Session 4: Youth at the margins of the welfare state 1: Confinement of children and young people

Session 5: Youth at the margins of the welfare state 2: Risk-taking and everyday lives

Session 6: Youth at the margins of the welfare state 3: Methodologies
 
Session 7: Nordic economic elites and the welfare state

Session 8: The sociology of chronic illness 

Session 9: Social stratification 

Session 10: Time, power and resistance (more than one session within the session theme is possible)

Session 11: It may be a long haul - Longitudinal approaches to understanding hard-to-place unemployed clients and their interaction with the frontline of the welfare state

Session 12: Health, wellness and mobility
 
Sessions 13: Sociology and the meaning of place

Session 14: Gender and intersectionality (more than one session within the session theme is possible)

Session 15: Studies of Cultural Distinctions and Social Differentiation (SCUD)

Sessions 16: Social inequalities in health in accelerated modernity

Session 17: Civil Society in the Nordic Countries

Session 18: Sport and Globalization: a challenge and a condition

Session 19: ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY, AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Session 20: Family and kinship

session 21: Papers outside current sessions

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Session 1: Nordic welfare states and immigration

Session leaders: Karen Nielsen Breidahl and Christian Albrekt Larsen. Centre for Comparative Welfare Studies, Aalborg University

 The session ask how immigration into the Nordic countries can be combined with generous welfare states in the future. One position is that Nordic countries face a hard trade-off between welcoming various types of migrants and maintaining a Nordic welfare state. Lack of education, lack of labour market participation and lack of identification with the host countries could indicate the presence of trade-offs. The opposite position is that migrants hardly affect the existing Nordic welfare schemes. Success in the educational system, tax payment from work income and widespread identification with the Nordic countries and their current institutions could indicate the absence of trade-offs.

The session welcome papers that address this overall question e.g. by analyses of what kind of migrants the Nordic countries attract and is likely to attract in the future, how current stocks of immigrants in the Nordic countries have become integrated on various dimension, and how various policies might mitigate that trade-offs that might exist. The session particularly welcome papers that discuss to what extend the Nordic institutional and cultural context influence the push-pull mechanisms that initiate mobility across nation state borders and the integration processes that follows.
 

Session 2: Institutional Ethnography of welfare institutions

Session leader: Kjeld Høgsbro, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

The topic of the session: The session will receive papers addressing the recent changes in the welfare services on the basis of an institutional ethnography of a single agency as well as an institutional complex. The studies should include a discussion of the influence of trans-local actors as well as global discourses. It might include studies of the implementation of international concepts for good practice or the more general influence of globalised political discourses or guidelines for management on a national or local level. It might also include the discussion of sustainability or stability of the ‘nordic model’ as well as the global influence of this model.

 

Session 3: Citizen Initiatives for Global Solidarity

Session leader: Hanne Haaland, University of Agder, Norway

The aim is to facilitate for a discussion on the new forms of citizen mobilization and engagement which we see emerging in development aid and in humanitarian crisis alike, where roles are being reversed and where privatization of aid is evident. This reflects a response to and an influence on global processes. For many years researchers have paid attention to the emerging phenomena of private development initiatives - or Citizen Initiatives for Global Solidarity (here CI) - in development aid (Schulpen and Huyse, 2017, Kinsbergen, 2014) However small these initiatives are, the increase in numbers illustrate that citizens who are establishing and running their own development organization is far more than an anecdotal affair within the field of development (Pollet et al. 2014). During later years such initiatives have also emerged in numbers responding to humanitarian crisis across the world, as was the case in Lesvos in 2015 (Haaland and Wallevik, 2017). Modern technology has also facilitated for a new type of communication and engagement, opening for the participation of everyone in the production and mediation of development and of humanitarian crisis through their own cultural imagination, rather than only observing them through the media (Pantti 2015.) Chouliaraki (2012) adds to this, pointing to how technology has provided an infrastructure where users are converted into producers rather than consumers in public communication. Likewise, “light touch activism” in the form of a daily donation or signing a petition has become part of our daily multitasking (Choularaki 2012). These new forms of engagement have contributed to the growth of CIs responding to development needs and to crisis. Furthermore, CI’s are also increasingly visible in work on integration of refugees across the world. This calls for an increased attention towards refugee and migrants’ led activism and citizens’ solidarity with asylum seekers and refugees both abroad and at home.

 

Session 4: Youth at the margins of the welfare state 1: Confinement of children and young people

Session leader: Ann-Karina Henriksen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

This session explores recent developments in the institutional responses to troubled and troubling young people by use of confinement. Confinement can have detrimental effects on children’s health and development but may also be necessary to prevent them from harming themselves or harming others. In the Nordic countries youths are generally not confined in prisons, but rather in secure care facilities, which operate in a nexus between criminal justice and child protection services. Often these institutions carter to the needs of both offending youths (in pre-trial remand or serving a sentence) and youths in protective care, assessed as being harmful to themselves or others.

This session invites studies from the Nordic countries and beyond to enable a comparative perspective on the confinement of youths addressing both institutional practices and young people’s lived experience of being confined. Presenters are encouraged to reflect on how gender, ethnicity, age and psychiatric disabilities shape practices and experiences of confinement, and address wider debates on punishment, protection and treatment in contemporary welfare states.

 

Session 5: Youth at the margins of the welfare state 2: Risk-taking and everyday lives

Session leader: Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson, senior researcher at VIVE

This session invites contributions on young people’s risk-taking practices and everyday lives. Risk is not merely a question of societal changes or of being defined as ‘at risk’. Risk is also closely related to young people’s everyday lives and how they navigate their transitions into adulthood. Risk-taking practices is integral to a number of youth cultural forms and is in this understanding not pre-defined as danger but also holds the potential of excitement and pleasure. Risk then becomes not only a question of real risks but also influences how youth perform their identities and create belonging. Topics in this session can thus span a wide range of risk-taking practices such as crime, drug use, experiences of homelessness, (illegal) migration, dropping out of school etc. and how these practices relate to young people’s everyday lives.

 

Session 6: Youth at the margins of the welfare state 3: Methodologies

Session leaders: Ann-Karina Henriksen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University, and Tea Torbenfeldt Bengtsson, senior researcher at VIVE

This session focusses on the challenges and possibilities for studying youth as/at risk in- and outside institutional contexts. We invite contributions that describe actual research processes, including reflections on dilemmas, ethics, access problems and concerns about representation. We also invite reflections on innovative methods and creative ways of ‘knowing’, such as the use of audio logs, social media, photos, art and participatory research methods. The aim of the session is to reflect on challenges, dilemmas and possibilities for studying social work practices and young people’s lived experiences of marginality.
 

 
Session 7: Nordic economic elites and the welfare state

Session leader: Trygve Guldbandsen, Norwegian Institute for Social Research, and Mikael Holmqvist, Stockholm Business School, University of Stockholm

During the last decades the Nordic countries’ traditional emphasis on social solidarity based on high taxes and moderate differences in level of income and capital has been strained by an increasing accumulation of economic wealth limited to a small group of people, the Nordic “one percent.” Significant segments of this group enact a distinctly global rather than local lifestyle. They live in socially homogenous and wealthy communities with strong mental and cultural borders to the rest of society. They control and even create their own schools, where young members of the economic elite are socialized and educated. Members of this group are becoming increasingly militant in defending their privileges and way of life. They engage in politics and debate directly and indirectly through the lobby organizations they control. The economic elite in the Nordic countries has so far received only moderate attention among sociologists locally in each Nordic country; and even less attention has been devoted to the phenomenon of a distinct Nordic economic elite that is tied together through economic and social relations, and that has the potential to seriously influence politics and social norms in society in general.

In this session, we wish to explore the growing political, economic and moral importance of Nordic economic elites, and invite papers that deal with these issues. However, we also wish to discuss if there are variations within the economic elite as to lifestyle, attitudes and behavior. Traditionally even top leaders in private business have used to endorse some of the main elements of the Nordic welfare state model. Does the emergence of a more privileged and self-conscious group of wealthy persons herald a swing away from this support of the Nordic model?

 

Session 8: The sociology of chronic illness

Session leaders: Dan Grabowski, Kasper Olesen and Ulla Møller Hansen, Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen

In Nordic welfare states chronic illness is increasingly treated and managed outside of traditional health care facilities. With approximately a third of the population in the Nordic countries living with at least one chronic illness, the role of social settings in civil societies, such as families, local communities and work places, becomes of increasing importance for prevention and management of chronic illness. Sociology of chronic illness has an untapped potential to explore, describe and intervene in the conditions and possibilities when living with chronic illness. Because of the shared cultural, geographical, and social features across the Global North we propose a stream focusing on current and future research in the unsettled field of sociology of chronic illness in and especially outside the traditional health care setting.

Parson’s classic theory on sick roles (1951) demonstrated that the sick role is embedded in social processes and assumptions about what is right and wrong. In the case of acute illness e.g. the sick person is granted exemption from normal roles and responsibilities. But what happens when the sick role is permanent and when it is played out outside of the traditional healthcare setting e.g. in the family setting or the work place setting? As problematized by the Danish sociologist Dorte Gannik the conceptual distinction between experienced illness and diagnosed disease has made it possible to make analyses of illness in one dimension without link to the expression of the disease in the other dimension. This distinction or sociological doubling of the disease concept may be more problematic than fruitful. Questions relating to identity processes, self-understandings and social imaginaries in relation to illness and health are also of central concern within sociology of chronic illness. How do these mechanisms affect the way we understand ourselves in the context of complex societies?
 

 
Session 9: Social stratification

Session leaders: Jani Erola and Elina Kilpi-Jakonen, Department of Social Research, University of Turku

The session focuses on quantitative research examining social stratification, in particular those forms that create systematic inequality between different social groups. The social groups researched may be based on social origin, education, class, income, wealth, gender, migrant status, ethnicity or marital status, for example. The stream invites presentations that aim to explain differences between groups and how inequality changes over time and/or accumulates over the life course, as well as presentations that examine the intergenerational transmission of status and social mobility. Cross-nationally comparative studies that examine the influence of social structures and institutions, such as different aspects of the welfare state or educational system, on stratification and inequality are also welcome.
 

 
Session 10: Time, power and resistance (more than one session within the session theme is possible)

Session leaders: Satu Heikkinen and Majken Jul Sørensen, Karlstad University

The proposed sessions orient towards the politics of time and how time is interlinked with power and resistance. There is a temporal aspect to all areas of human life, yet we have no sense that can grasp the passing of time the same way that our eyes can see a landscape. This means that for many people, time is mainly associated with the clocks and calendars which represent the abstract and decontextualized concept of time which has dominated western societies since the rise of capitalism (Adam 2004). However, this commodified and abstract perception of time where “time is money” is very different from the lived experience of time. By (re)visiting the concept of time the sessions aim to critically interrogate how time entangle with different forms of power.

Time was a theme already for the classic sociologists, but recently it has resurfaced in sociology with the growing interest in acceleration. According to Harmut Rosa (2013), this acceleration has three different forms: First, there is the technological acceleration, which we see in areas such as communication and transportation. Secondly, people experience an acceleration of social change and thirdly the individual tempo of life is accelerating when more activities have to be carried out in a shorter amount of time. People report of feeling rushed and short of time both at work and in private life, trying to carve out small amounts of “quality time”. How do we experience this acceleration and how do we resist the very force of acceleration in our daily lives?

 

Session 11: It may be a long haul - Longitudinal approaches to understanding hard-to-place unemployed clients and their interaction with the frontline of the welfare state

Session leaders: Helle Bendix Kleif and Dorte Caswell, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

Since the 1990s, a vast amount of reforms of the social and employment services have swept across most of the developed world. These have enormously expanded the groups of citizens receiving active employment measures (Lindsay & Houston 2013). Nevertheless, up until now, most countries have only seen limited results from enhancing the labour market participation of the most vulnerable groups (Bredgaard et al. 2015). Parallel to these developments, in recent years, we have seen a surge in the demand for evidence-based practice and policy (Pearce & Raman 2014). The preferred knowledge documenting the effects of a more disciplinary and regulatory approach and legitimating it, has placed evidence-based studies – defined as studies conducted by Randomised Controlled Trials (RCT) or other (quasi) experimental methods – at the top of the knowledge hierarchy. However, the transfer of evidence-based knowledge from easy-to-place unemployed to vulnerable unemployed rests on a ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach that disregards the specific problems and challenges faced by the vulnerable unemployed (Olesen & Eskelinen 2011, Danneris 2016).

This session takes its point of departure in the argument that this knowledge base is insufficient (Andersen et al. 2017, Danneris 2016), and that there is a need for more research from qualitative, quantitative and mixed studies with a longitudinal approach. We invite research on trajectories of clients, processes of contact between client and welfare system, on consecutive activation or social measures, on policy developments over time, etc. The session aims to facilitate discussion across research methods.

 

Session 12: Health, wellness and mobility

Session leader: Laura Kemppainen, University of Helsinki; Teemu Kemppainen, University of Helsinki; Harley Bergroth, University of Turku and Veera Koskinen, University of Jyväskylä

Due to globalised health markets, patients are today more mobile than ever. Even though people have travelled for health and wellness for long, new infrastructures and changing social and cultural conditions affect health-related mobility. This working group examines contemporary flows and implications of health mobility and the relations of health, wellness and transnationalism.

The relationship between health and mobility has multiple aspects. First, mobility may be motivated by health-related aims. For example, patients seeking for more extensive or more affordable health services abroad are moved by health-related concerns. The same applies also to the so-called wellness tourists who seek pleasurable leisure experiences and optimisation of their well-being. In extreme cases, health-related mobility may even convert into suicide tourism (euthanasia) or ‘biotech pilgrimage’ through which experimental, and augmentative forms of health optimisation are sought. Finally, in contemporary multinational health service infrastructures (e.g. with genetic tests, proactive lab tests) the flows of cross-border movement comprise not necessarily of customers themselves but of non-human objects, such as blood samples and bits of information.

Second, mobility has health implications. Even though voluntary residential move is often characterised by positive expectations, wishes and even dreams, it is also a stressful life event and may imply health risks, which has often been attributed to disrupted social attachment. Especially children and adolescents may suffer from frequent moves. On a larger geographic scale, international migration may have specific health implications. For example, it may lead to sentiments of isolation and rootlessness, if immigrants do not find their place in the host society and face discrimination. Migrants find themselves in a new cultural setting and different cultural understandings of health and care expectations can affect migrants’ health and help-seeking. Furthermore, healthcare systems have to increasingly deal with patients from diverse cultural backgrounds and questions of culturally competent care.

 
Session 13: Sociology and the meaning of place

Session leader: Pia Heike Johansen, Department of Sociology, Environmental and Business Economics. University of Southern Denmark

This session invites papers that address the meaning of place in sociology. Especially papers that take up the rural – urban divide from a sociological perspective is of highly relevance. The paper may concern theoretical discussions about for example how to deal with a contemporary understanding of the urban-rural divide in classic sociology for example as it is spelled out in the work of Durkheim, Tarde, Simmel, Tönnies, Bourdieu, Foucault and Lefebvre. The papers may also concern the tendency to think about rural sociology as a less sociological discipline, which draws heavily on human and social geography. Also, the papers may be empirical studies of that address the rural urban divide for example in recent elections world wide showing a tendency to a revolt from rural areas against the national political agenda. The session seeks to gather sociologist in the Nordic countries that have a special interest in the meaning of place and the rural urban divide in sociology with the aim to create a Nordic network.
 

 
Session 14: Gender and intersectionality (more than one session within the session theme is possible)

Session leaders: Sune Qvortrup Jensen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University, and Stine Thidemann Faber, Department of Culture and Global Studies, Aalborg University

Gender studies, including the sub-specializations of for instance masculinity studies and queer studies, play a key role in current sociology, as the gendered and sexualized aspects of various social phenomena are increasingly recognized both inside and outside academia. This includes a wide range of topics such as gender related violence, masculinity and radicalization processes, social movements and gendered activism, as well as gendered and sexual inequalities on the labour market, in education, in family and intimate lives and elsewhere. It is also clear that nation states across the globe, even the famously perceived egalitarian Nordic countries, are ameliorating these problems in different ways and with varying success, in part because of cultural changes and because some of the problems are transnational rather than national in character. At the same time, it is clear that from a sociological perspective gender can no longer be understood in isolation but has to be grasped and analysed in its intersection with other forms of social differentiation (sexuality, class, ethnicity, age, etc.).

The session invites contributions that aim to explore current gender differences and gender representations in the private as well as the public sphere and/or address and discuss how including a gender, and an intersectional, perspective can be useful in sociological analysis.
 

 
Session 15: Studies of Cultural Distinctions and Social Differentiation (SCUD)

Session leaders: Annick Prieur and Jakob Skjøtt-Larsen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

This workshop welcomes papers on inequalities based on economic, cultural and social resources. The study of elites and classes and of inequalities and its consequences lies at the heart of sociology. Economic inequalities are probably the most serious threats against cohesion, cooperation and progress in European countries. But, economic inequalities are deeply connected to other social divides – political, cultural, regional, ethnic, religious, generational and other. The Nordic countries is an especially fruitful soil for explorations of these issues, as our social models are widely regarded as less conducive to social divisions. How are inequalities produced and reproduced in the contexts of welfare state regimes that have long-standing ambitions of countering them? What are the consequences in terms of political participation, social polarization, social cohesion and social mobility? The workshop addresses these issues in a Nordic context.

We invite paper contributions and presentations from studies of different dimensions of contemporary stratification –economic, cultural, educational, social – and how they intersect to produce multidimensional consequences.
 

 
Session 16: Social inequalities in health in accelerated modernity

Session leaders: Claus D. Hansen and Anders Petersen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University

From a health perspective the Global North is on an interesting trajectory: longevity has been increasing steadily for a long period time and even Denmark that has long been behind its Nordic neighbours has begun to catch up. From one perspective focusing on health-related lifestyle and diseases related to health-behaviour, we live longer and healthier lives. On the other hand, societies have accelerated, we run faster and there has been a surge of mental health problems over the same period with a rapidly increasing number of people taking psychoactive drugs, being diagnosed with mental illness and media attention on stress, depression, anxiety, and unwanted loneliness. Both the increase in longevity and the epidemic of stress and depression are often portrayed as tendencies that impact diverse groups in the population equally. However, many studies have also demonstrated an increase in the social inequality of health: while the increase in longevity can be found across all social classes the increase is biggest for those earning most and having the longest educations. Similarly, social epidemiological studies suggest that a greater share of those outside or on the margins of the labour market experience perceived stress when compared to those in stable jobs.

In this session we urge researches to explore, elaborate or question this apparent discrepancy between common discourses on the health state of the Global North and results from continuing health surveillance. We encourage scholars doing both empirical work (quantitative as well as qualitative) and theoretical analyses to submit papers to the session to discuss these issues. The session is also open for other contributions tapping into research related to the sociology of health and illness.
 

 
Session 17: Civil Society in the Nordic Countries

Session leaders: Lars Skov Henriksen, Department of Sociology and Social Work, Aalborg University and Klaus Levinsen, Institut for Sociologi, Miljø- og Erhvervsøkonomi University of Southern Denmark

In recent years, civil society and its relations to the topics of civic engagement, activism, social capital, trust, co-creation, the public sphere, and foundations have received considerable attention from scholars as well as decision makers and the broader public. In the Nordic countries we have seen renewed interest in the studies of historical and current relations between state and civil society, the role of associations and voluntary organizations in sustaining public welfare and culture, new forms of activism and new forms of organizing citizens initiatives, the effect of these activities on individual and collective life and much more. The role of civil society in tackling new challenges related to migration, globalization, climate change, inequality, and populism is highly debated and contested.

We invite papers that address any of these questions. Theoretical as well as empirical work is welcome, and we encourage colleagues to submit papers based on different types of designs and different data sources.
 


Session 18: Sport & Globalization: a challenge and a condition

Session Leader: Lone Friis Thing, Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports, University of Copenhagen

In the Nordic countries ”idræt/idrott/idrett”, gymnastics, sport, and other movement cultures are increasingly discussed in relation to their role in the welfare state. The voluntary sport sector is expected take co-responsibility for societal challenges in the welfare state, particularly regarding health, but also integration, employment, and other areas. Economic crisis in the western world and large migration movements in Europe put pressure on the national welfare systems. Globalization leads to political, structural, and cultural changes. It is often obvious that sport and the voluntary organization of it can contribute in a positive way to cohesion, sociality, and health in society, but recent studies of sport and exercise participation shows a greater differentiation and individualization, and the voluntary sport sector is under pressure from the commercial fitness sector and self-organized exercise.

This session will critically examine organizational and social processes of change in sport and attempt to illuminate, explain, and put into perspective the possibilities and challenges regarding the role of sustainable forms of the role of sport in the welfare state.


Session 19: ENVIRONMENT, SUSTAINABILITY, AND SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT

Session leaders: Nora Machado, CIES/ISCTE, Lisbon University Institute/Department of Sociology, University of Gothenburg; and Ken Choi Kan Suen, CEMUS, University of Uppsala

Long before the idea of sustainable development took hold, sociologists were already conducting research on development issues such as modernization, socioeconomic development, distorted development, unequal development, etc. Sociologists were also researching sustainability issues, including pollution, environmental degradation, resource depletion, key resource struggles and politics relating to oil, water, land, etc.

This session is interested in highlighting current Nordic contributions to environmental, sustainability, and resilience research.  Theoretical, empirical, and policy-oriented papers are invited; comparative studies are welcomed. Of particular interest are investigations of climate change issues, sociological conceptualizations of sustainability and sustainability development: and studies of the “sustainability revolution”, environmental awareness and attitudes, climate change adaptation (CCA), disaster risk reduction (DRR), and other relevant policy and strategic initiatives and controversies.

Session 20: Family and kinship

Session leaders: Liselotte Olsson, Department of Social and Psychological Studies at Karlstads University and Andreas Henriksson, Department of Social and Psychological Studies at Karlstads University

The Nordic countries share a number of characteristics in the area of families and kinship: striving for gender equal families, more single households and higher acceptance for rainbow families in comparison to other European countries, are important examples. The Nordic welfare model has often been used to explain these commonalities, although other understandings are also given. Yet, this Scandinavian ‘familial model’ is undergoing significant changes, such as new family and kinship structures in the wake of social, economic, cultural and technological change, the rise of the transnational family and a new working life destabilising the boundaries between work and family. 

New concepts and theories in family and kinship studies, often from the UK and US, have been fruitfully applied by Sociology in the Nordic countries over the last two decades. It is unclear however if and how these theories are being adapted to the Scandinavian context and to what extent this is warranted.

For this session, we invite contributions that discuss family and kinship in the Nordic context, particularly those that address ongoing changes in these countries. Both qualitative and quantitative approaches are welcome.


session 21: Papers outside current sessions