RC19 Annual Conference, 25-27 August 2021, University of Fribourg (Switzerland)

Drivers and challenges of social policies: Global, regional, national and local perspectives

The current COVID-19 crisis demonstrates once more how social problems are shaped by a complex interplay of global, regional, national and local level factors. Some global actors were key drivers shaping the definition of and the response to this highly unequal medical and social problem. Others, not least in the humanitarian sector, had problems in continuing their routine work. Regional actors such as the African Union or the European Union struggled to coordinate policy responses as nationalist policy responses prevailed. However, countries reacted with a broad variety of public health and social policy responses. Many countries introduced or adapted social policies to cushion at least a part of the (vulnerable) populations. In some federal countries, there was competition and cooperation on the sub-national level. Finally, many social problems became most visible on the local level, triggering in many cases a remarkable engagement by non-state actors. On all levels, the COVID-19 crisis had an impact on productive activities and is reconfiguring different care and support relationships. Many of these changes as well as the successes and flaws of policy responses are currently becoming more and more apparent. The topic of the RC19 annual conference are the drivers and challenges of social policies, including but not restricted to social policies related to the COVID-19 crisis.