Social Policy in Changing European Societies: Research Agendas for the 21st Century

Hardcover: 328 pages
Publisher: Edward Elgar Publishing
Year: 2022
Language: English

Edited By:

Kenneth Nelson, Full Professor of Sociology, Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, Sweden

Rense Nieuwenhuis, Associate Professor of Sociology, Swedish Institute for Social Research (SOFI), Stockholm University, Sweden

Mara A. Yerkes, Associate Professor of Interdisciplinary Social Science, Department of Interdisciplinary Social Science, Utrecht University, the Netherlands

Adopting an interdisciplinary approach this book provides a cutting-edge, in-depth account of social policy research today, how we got here, and where future research should be headed. It defines the core research agenda for the future covering multiple social policy fields, including care, family, health, and housing policy as well as gender equality, labour market policy, and welfare attitudes.

The book brings together a unique combination of scholars from social policy, sociology, political science, international relations, and law, who explore how European societies have changed over the last 20 years, the future challenges which need to be addressed and the role for social policy research. The editors argue that to advance research on European social policy, we need to develop a better understanding of the interplay between multiple policies, invest more resources in theoretical development, and effectively utilize perhaps the greatest asset of European social policy research – its multidisciplinarity.

Offering crucial insights into the dynamic nature of social policy research, this book will be a valuable guide for social policy scholars and students. Its discussion of a broad range of social policy areas will also be useful for practitioners and policymakers across a wide range of social policy fields.

Book Review

Social Policy in Changing European Societies is a valuable collection of chapters by leading scholars of social policy. The book explores topical issues such as the crisis of the welfare state and social policies, changes in attitudes towards social policy, threats of environmental and climate change, digitalisation, and new migration patterns. The importance of these issues cannot be understated since social policy covers a range of issues, including care policies, family policies, health care, housing policy, pensions and ageing, poverty and social exclusion, and unemployment and activation policies. Social policies shape and reflect the normative framework of the society that creates it and are an important part of the coordinating institutions of society.  Social Policy in Changing European Societies explores the specific goals, achievements, and challenges of European social policy research, as well as cross-cutting themes and lessons learned. This is an important resource for scholars, students, and policymakers across a range of disciplines.

Other Notable Editorial Reviews

‘As societies change, so must their social policies, and so also must the research that informs them. Social Policy in Changing European Societies: Research Agendas for the 21st Century resets the research agenda after two tumultuous decades. The perspective is comparative and multi-disciplinary, with contributors assessing current thinking about policy areas, theoretical perspectives, research methodologies, and urgent policy challenges including social care, climate change, digitalisation and international migration.’
– Sheila Shaver, Social Policy Research Centre, UNSW Sydney, Australia

‘The volume is a worthy celebration of ESPAnet’s 20th anniversary. The chapters examine two decades of research on the core elements of social policy — from healthcare to housing, from poverty to privatization, from social investment to subjective well-being, from targeting to tax credits, from decentralization to defamilization, and much more. I learned a great deal from it.’
– Lane Kenworthy, University of California, San Diego, US

‘Gathering a line-up of excellent scholars, this volume takes stock of social policy research in Europe. By mapping key themes and challenges, it explores the multiple faces of this research in an impressive manner. This volume is a must read for social policy students and practitioners in Europe and beyond.’
– Daniel Béland, McGill University, Canada

Purchase online

The eBook version is priced from £20/$26 from eBook vendors while in print the book can be ordered from the Edward Elgar Publishing website.


Preface xvi

1 Social policy research in changing European societies 1
Kenneth Nelson, Rense Nieuwenhuis, and Mara A. Yerkes


2 Care and the analysis of welfare states 20
Mary Daly and Margarita León

3 Family policy research in Europe 34
Wim Van Lancker and Hannah Zagel

4 Comparative research on health and health care 50
Claus Wendt

5 Long-term developments in housing policy and research 66
Caroline Dewilde and Marietta Haffner

6 Studying the politics of pension reforms and their social consequences 85
Bernhard Ebbinghaus and Katja Möhring

7 Poverty, social policy and the welfare state: a research agenda 101
Bea Cantillon

8 Research on active social policy 120
Giuliano Bonoli


9 Researching social Europe on the move 136
Caroline De la Porte and Ilaria Madama

10 The evolution of social policy research in Central and Eastern Europe 154
Jolanta Aidukaite and Jekaterina Navicke

11 Twenty years of social policy research on gender 171
Trudie Knijn

12 European labour markets and social policy: recent research and future directions 187
Jochen Clasen and Daniel Clegg

13 Recent advances in understanding welfare attitudes in Europe 202
Wim van Oorschot, Tijs Laenen, Femke Roosma, and Bart Meuleman

14 Methodologies for comparative social policy analysis 218
Emanuele Ferragina and Christopher Deeming


15 Social policy research and climate change 236
Bjørn Hvinden and Mi Ah Schoyen

16 Studying social policy in the digital age 251
Minna van Gerven

17 Migrants and social policy: shifting research agendas 265
Karen N. Breidahl, Troels Fage Hedegaard, and Verena Seibel

18 Social policy research in times of crisis 279
Bent Greve and Thomas Paster

19 Where to from here? Social policy research in future European societies 294
Mara A. Yerkes, Kenneth Nelson and Rense Nieuwenhuis

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