Stream 12: Emerging issues for church-state welfare settlements in the current era of populism, identity politics, and economic uncertainty

Emmanuele Pavolini and Daniel Beland

Although much has been written about secularization, religion remains a key issue in many social policy areas, such as education, family policy, health care, and abortion policy. This proposed stream has a double focus.

On the one hand, the session aims at improving our knowledge of the role of religion in social policy and, more generally, to promote the development of approaches to welfare state stability and change that take into account the changing role over time of major social institutions such as religion and the family. The proposed stream seeks papers that study the role of faithbased organizations, political parties, family values and structures, and issues of path-dependency and incremental yet transformative social and policy change. Moreover, the proposed stream is inviting analyses of the religion-social policy nexus in Europe and North America, given the fact that there are new dynamics and trends at stake, as well as contributions studying such nexus outside of Europe.

On the other hand, the session also focuses on a set of more recent and important socio-political phenomena: the diffusion of a populist approach and, in particular, the religion-social policy- opulism nexus. In many countries, the rise of populist politics has been often accompanied by reference to religious identity as an original source of identity that has been eroded by cultural or economic globalisation. This phenomenon is apparent not only in countries of the Western Hemisphere such as the USA, Italy, Hungary, the UK, and Austria but is also gaining ground in countries of the Global South, most recently with the recent Brazilian presidential election. It is a form of identity politics that emphasises a definition of populism as “cultural backlash”, rather than being purely based on economic motives.

Overall, the stream has the following objectives:

1. First, to revisit the relationship between religion and social policy across both state and non-state terrains;

2. Second, to explore the extent to which religious values and identity offer a platform for re-envisioning social welfare and social policy issues as a way of coping with the impact of populist politics, identity politics or indeed riding its wave.

Comparative papers and in-depth country studies of one or more the issues listed above are especially welcomed. The organizers also welcome papers studying the history-religion-social policy nexus outside of Europe

Abstracts can be submitted through the online abstract submission system: