Department of Social & Policy Sciences

Department hosts inequality and social policy in Latin America research day

Tue Feb 02 15:10:00 GMT 2016

On 25-26 January, Dr Séverine Deneulin hosted a doctoral workshop and research day on ‘Urban Inequality, Youth and Social Policy in Latin America’ at the University of Bath.

The events were part of a three-year British Academy International Mobility Partnership grant between University of Bath and the Catholic University of Argentina, with collaboration from University of Oxford (Latin American Centre), Catholic University of Chile and of Sao Paulo.

The aim of the three-year partnership is to collaborate on research and postgraduate curriculum development between the participating universities on the theme of urban inequality and social policy and to inform urban integration policies. Its activities adopt a theoretical perspective centred on multi-dimensional wellbeing and agency.

The doctoral workshop brought together PhD students across various disciplines and institutions, ranging from education, politics and international relations, economics and international development, and covering countries from Brazil, Chile, Argentina, Bangladesh and Indonesia.

Without doing justice to the rich exchanges of the day, one point was particularly salient through all the presentations: there is no perfect policy, whatever is done and how well it is done and how well the macro impact indicators, we should never lose sight of the real lives of the people and what they make of the policy in their specific context. We concluded the day with a lively pub meal, which for a few participants was their first contact with this very national institution!

The research day focused on social policy and the context of the Latin American mega-city and youth. Staff from the Department of Social & Policy Sciences were joined by staff from the Oxford Latin American Centre, the Inter-disciplinary Programme on Human Development and Social Inclusion in Argentina, and the Institute of Urban Studies in Chile to exchange their research. There were also contributions on youth in the African urban context and social policy in the Middle East. The ‘cash transfer’ policies as a form of social protection were much discussed, loved and criticized, throughout the day. Academics are trained to have a critical mind, but one contributor reminded us not to forget the positive amidst the criticism. The Latin American way of reducing inequality may not be sustainable in the long run and has many serious flaws, but at least there is a way. There could have been none at all.