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University of Bath

Transnational transformations in social protection: concepts, instruments and contexts

An expert research group examining social protection in the Global North and South with a view to developing a major research project proposal.

Project Aims

Our community of researchers will conduct world-leading research on social protection in both the Global North and South. We adopt the ILO’s definition of social protection as comprising income security across the life-course and in relation to specific contingencies, such as unemployment, and access to healthcare.

We will advance scholarship and policy learning by harnessing complementary strengths from across the GW4 institutions; and by identifying gaps in the academic literature, which has lagged behind developments in policy and practice over the past decade.

Research Themes

The project will seek to advance a new wave of more critical conceptual reflection of the idea of social protection as a policy tool, not only in the reduction of poverty but in the expansion of social rights and social justice in low and middle-income country contexts.

This has been highlighted as an area of discrepancy in the current donor-led environment which seems to overlook more local level approaches to social protection practice. Hence a new area of policy-relevant enquiry has been identified in relation to political and institutional analyses that will incorporate global, national and civil society levels of action (including community and faith-based initiatives).

A second important area of research is in relation to the expansion and use/misuse of new datasets on social protection that deserve greater scrutiny but can also inform the classification or social protection outcomes in a more meaningful way for poverty-reduction efforts.

The Bristol and Cardiff groups have already made headway in this regard in relation to child welfare and food security.

Project Activities

2 Day Project Conference

We will run a 2 day conference with a new project partner, Institute of Development Studies (IDS), University of Sussex, in the summer of 2019 which will seek to move the project towards preparing for a major GCRF Global Challenges bid. Linking up with the well-established Social Protection Centre at the IDS will provide mutual benefits to the GW4 group and extend our network of policy and research stakeholders.

PhD Seminar

We will also run a PhD seminar on the theme of social protection in the autumn of 2019. The project team members have a wealth of research expertise that will be used to build the capacity of the next generation of social protection researchers.

The seminar will support the sustainability of our GW4 community and advance expertise in poverty reduction and social protection research. In addition, we are able to offer a unique blend of quantitative and qualitative research methods expertise which, to the best of our knowledge, has not yet been offered to PhD students of social protection research in Europe.

Project team


This project is funded by GW4.