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  • Author: Josef Hien
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: For centuries, churches were the main institutional providers of welfare in Europe before the state took over this role in the late 19th century. The influence of modernization theory meant that modern welfare state theorists increasingly regarded religion and its impact on welfare as a relic from the distant past. It was anticipated that modern, differentiated, and industrialized societies would see the decline and inevitable disappearance of religious welfare provision along with religiosity. Surprisingly, however, at the beginning of the 21st century in many modern industrialized societies, religious institutions are increasingly becoming involved in welfare provision again. The religion blind classic welfare state literature offers no explanation for this phenomenon. This present paper argues that the resurgence of faith-based welfare providers is the reversal of a phenomenon that occurred in the late 19th century when modern states started to strip religious providers of their prerogatives in welfare provision. The result was the ascendance of the modern state and the demise of religion in the late 19th century. The return of welfare to religious providers can therefore be interpreted as the beginning of the demise of the modern state.
  • Topic: Development, Human Welfare, Non-Governmental Organization, Religion, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: United States of America
  • Author: Sabrina Zajak
  • Publication Date: 04-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper presents a novel analytical framework to study transnational activism in the context of today’s international governance architecture. While there is a considerable amount of literature on the emergence, development, and effects of transnational activism in specific transnational governance arrangements or within a specific local context, an integrated framework that analyzes the dynamic interplay between activism, transnational institutions, and domestic contexts is still lacking. The framework of transnational pathways of influence intends to help close this gap. It integrates insights from social movement research on transnational collective action and insights from institutional theorists on institutional interactions. The framework consists of three major concepts: the concept of intra-pathway dynamics captures the relationship of mobilization and institutional chance within one path; the concept of inter-pathway dynamics encompasses institutional interactions and interdependencies between activism across paths; and the concept of the global–local link characterizes the relationship of activism within each path to local actors, the domestic context, and the political regime. The paper outlines this framework and exemplifies it by taking the case of transnational labor-rights activism targeting labor-rights violations in a strong and nondemocratic state: the People’s Republic of China. It shows that the study of activism across different transnational pathways over time is necessary to understand the combined effects of activist interventions, institutional co-evolution and interaction as an explanation of the process of selective convergence between global norms and local practices.
  • Topic: Development, Politics, Labor Issues, Governance, Social Movement
  • Political Geography: China
  • Author: Jens Beckert
  • Publication Date: 03-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Capitalism is an economic and social order oriented toward the future. In this paper, I describe the unfolding of the temporal order of capitalism and relate it to the restless dynamism of capitalism we have observed since the Industrial Revolution. Since the future is open, actors are confronted with the uncertainty of the outcomes of their decisions. What can expectations be under conditions of uncertainty? To answer this question, I introduce the notion of fictional expectations which can be used to describe decisions made under conditions of an open and uncertain future. In the paper’s penultimate section, I apply the concept of fictional expectations to the analysis of four crucial processes of capitalism: money and credit, investments, innovation, and consumption. The main thrust of the paper is that in order to understand economic action in capitalism, actors’ perceptions of the future need to take center stage. Not only “history matters,” but also the “future matters.”
  • Topic: Economics, Markets, Socialism/Marxism, Social Movement, Capitalism
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Sabrina Zajak
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper contributes to the debate on the role of democratic participation in complex systems of governance. It takes a process-oriented constructivist approach asking how transnational activism over time contributes to the construction of access and voice from below and uses the Asia-Europe Meetings (ASEM) to analyze how interactions between civil society and global governance institutions shape concrete forms of participation. The paper shows that transnational activism triggers both discursive and institutional changes within the official ASEM process leading to an informal, fragmented, and fragile institutionalization of civil society participation. However, the paper reveals a division between civil society organizations with some, such as business representatives, having preferential access and voice in comparison to more contentious organizations. The paper explains this fragmented form of democratization as the result of three interrelated processes: the particular history and economic origins of the ASEM; international developments particularly in the ongoing economic crisis; and domestic developments within individual countries (in particular China) which have begun to favor controlled access for civil society participation.
  • Topic: Civil Society, Democratization, Economics, History, Governance, Developments
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia
  • Author: M.A. McCarthy
  • Publication Date: 07-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: This paper considers the rise of defined-contribution (DC) pensions – such as 401(k) plans – in order to contribute to the debate about neoliberalism. It challenges the generalizability of two common accounts: the weak state intervention thesis, which argues that neoliberal policy change is driven by state retreat and deregulation, and the state-managed transition thesis, which argues that neoliberal policies are both enacted and managed through new regulations. In contrast, this paper argues that the development of the employer-based pension system between 1970 and 1995 is an instance of “neoliberalism without neoliberals.” A battery of regulations was passed between 1974 and the late 1980s that were intended to make the traditional system of defined benefit (DB) pensioning more secure. However, this legislation triggered a business shift to 401(k)s. The legislation worked in such a counterintuitive way because of three factors related to changes in “the balance of class forces” in American society: (1) new laws increased costs for firms, with small businesses being hit the heaviest, (2) employment in the manufacturing sector, labor’s traditional stronghold, declined as a share of total employment, and (3) because unions were unable or unwilling to unionize emergent sectors of the economy, new businesses in them were not compelled to negotiate DB plans. In such a context, growing regulatory costs pushed many firms to adopt DC pensions for their employees. The outcome was a major policy shift, considered by many to be a defining feature of the neoliberal era.
  • Author: Richard Gowan, Thierry Tardy
  • Publication Date: 11-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International Cooperation
  • Abstract: Just over five years ago, relations between the EU and UN were strained due to the difficulties of planning and implementing coordinated missions in Chad and Kosovo. Today, relations are considerably more cordial, but there is still room to improve the two organizations’ joint planning procedures. This paper aims to assess what has been achieved in the field of planning coordination and what the remaining challenges are; it also makes some suggestions for further action.
  • Author: Alex Evans
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies
  • Abstract: Until recently, 95% of the bandwidth for talking and thinking about the post-2015 agenda was focused on goals and targets. Now that the Open Working Group (OWG) on the post- 2015 agenda has reported, though, policymakers and opinion formers are starting to think more seriously about the ‘how’ as opposed to the ‘what’ – and what a new Global Partnership on development, as well as the overall political outcome on means of implementation (MOI) more broadly, might look like by the end of next year.
  • Topic: Development, Economics, Politics, Sustainable Development Goals
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gregory S Jones
  • Publication Date: 09-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: The negotiations with Iran on its nuclear program have been extended to November 24, 2014 from the original July 20, 2014 deadline. Recently there has been much discussion regarding the merits of various proposals relaxing the requirement that Iran restrict its centrifuge enrichment capacity. It has been suggested that perhaps Iran would only reduce its number of centrifuges by 50% instead of 85% or that when Iran reduces its enrichment capacity, instead of removing the centrifuges entirely, it would just disconnect some of the piping.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Global Focus
  • Author: Gregory S Jones
  • Publication Date: 05-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: Negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program are continuing in an effort to produce a follow-on agreement, termed the “Comprehensive Solution,” to the November 2013 “Joint Plan of Action” (JPA). Much of the discussion of the Comprehensive Solution has focused on the terms such an agreement should include to prevent Iran from being able to produce nuclear weapons. However, this objective will not be attainable unless the agreement addresses key aspects of Iran’s nuclear program, fixes the flaws in the JPA which seriously constrain any agreement and recognizes fundamental problems with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards as currently implemented.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Nuclear Power
  • Political Geography: Iran, Global Focus
  • Author: Laurent A. Lambert
  • Publication Date: 12-2014
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for International and Regional Studies: CIRS
  • Abstract: This paper shows that the GCC cities’remarkable capacity to provide water to all their inhabitants despite the regional aridity should not be explained solely by apolitical factors such as the availability of desalination technologies and massive energy resources. Although acknowledging their importance, this paper demonstrates that the historical evolutions and achievements of the water sectors in Abu Dhabi and Kuwait city over the twentieth century are first and foremost the product of local and regional politics, and of reformist leaders’ agency at various times. Major changes in water governance can also be seen as a tool for, and as a signifier of, broader state reforms and changing politics. After independence, the manufacturing, subsidizing, and massive allocation of desalinated water were part of a political strategy aimed at redistributing oil rent to facilitate the tribes’ allegiance to the regimes, and to legitimize the increasing power of the new states. By contrast, the region’s recent trend of water privatizations, as in Abu Dhabi, Doha, and Riyadh, for instance, represents a strategy of gradually streamlining the rentier states and liberalizing their economies with a post-rentier perspective.
  • Topic: Environment, Power Politics
  • Political Geography: Middle East