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University of Bath

New Paradigms of Social Protection

A collaborative community examining the international and comparative study of social protection in regions that are often underexplored in academic research.

About the project

This collaboration aimed to build an interdisciplinary GW4 community around the international and comparative study of social protection in regions of the world that are often left underexplored in academic research: the Middle East and North Africa, East and South East Asia, Latin America and Africa.

The collaboration entailed an investigation of countries with diverse levels of development and income, culture and institutional capacity and social protection strategies. The collaboration took forward the theme of social protection as a new paradigm of public policy among international donor agencies and governments across these regions, as evidenced by adoption of the International Labour Organisation (ILO) Social Protection Floor discourse.

Focusing on social protection reopened long-standing gaps in knowledge and highlights dynamic policy changes not yet addressed by the literature.

It is time for a new generation of research about social institutions, political ideas and the agency of political actors in different parts of the world. Understanding social protection provision is significant not only to appreciate the social rights and standard of living enjoyed by different populations, but also to state building and stability.

The aim of this collaboration was to open up meaningful dialogue across:

  • the four GW4 universities
  • key actors and academics with expertise in social protection systems in different regions of the world (Sub-Saharan Africa, Latin America, East Asia, Middle East and North Africa)
  • inter-disciplinary perspectives in international development, social policy and political science around the global policy paradigm of social protection and the role that sub-national, non-governmental and transnational policy actors play in this

Project outputs

Three workshops were organised to share ideas, research expertise and agree a medium-term plan to bid for a large research grant (such as ESRC). The workshops brought GW4 expertise together for the first time in an area of shared strength. The same participants attended all three workshops in order to maintain continuity of dialogue.


One day workshop at University of Bristol

Social Protection, Policies and Discourses: Mapping the Field - Identifying Opportunities and Challenges. February, 2016.

One day workshop at Cardiff University

Analysing and Measuring Institutions, Impacts and Outcomes of Social Protection Systems. March, 2016.

One day international workshop at University of Bath

New Paradigms of Social Protection. April, 2016.

Project team