Stream 2: Migration, welfare and political contestation in the European space

Giuliano Bonoli and Francesco Maiani

Welfare states are the main tool market economies use to redistribute wealth and reduce inequality. In recent years, EU migration, mobility and increasing multi-culturalization have placed European welfare states before new challenges. This is visible in patterns of public opinion, in the evolution of social legislation and in the links between the two. Besides, we can observe an increase of political contestation on welfare issues.

Recent events such as Brexit have led to the emergence of debates on the access of free movers to welfare benefits also in other Member states (e.g. rise of populist parties). This stream aims at improving our understanding of the interplay between mobility, diversity, and the capacity of European societies to reduce inequalities through redistribution. The stream pursues the following objectives:

– To identify empirically redistributive arrangements that are politically acceptable for European societies characterized by diversity and mobility.
– To examine the way in which national welfare systems have been reshaped in reaction to their “opening” to “free movers” in the context of EU free movement law.
– To study the links between public opinion on welfare and the reshaping of national welfare states in the way they include migrants.

We welcome papers that analyse the effects of EU free movement on welfare states. We are interested in research that study both, the changes of public opinion regarding redistributive arrangements and the transformation of social policies in light of those changes. These studies will help us to understand whether the willingness to enter redistributive arrangements is affected by ethnic images of the beneficiaries or perceptions of the ethnic composition of the pool of welfare state clients.

We also welcome papers that study the evolution of Europe’s free movement regime and of social rights. Has social legislation been adapted/reduced in response to such “opening” and to fears of “welfare tourism”? To what extent have these adaptations, in turn, influenced EU free movement law?

Finally, we are interested in papers that address the relationship between political contestation and the access to welfare by free movers. We look for papers that analyse the extent to which EU free movement is altering the composition of political coalitions in support of welfare states and that study the links between the rise of political contestation in the European space and the access of free movers to welfare benefits.

Abstracts can be submitted through the online abstract submission system: