Society, social policy and welfare: The UK in a Changing Europe scoping report

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This report provides an overview of recent and current research in the field of society, social policy and welfare in the European Union. It identifies the contributions of four sub-fields of research in, respectively, comparative welfare state studies, comparative social policy, political economy and sociology, and EU studies. The report identifies key gaps in existing research, including problems arising forom the lack of knowledge integration and conceptual innovation across disciplines. The report identifies three current trends in social policy and welfare in the Union with significance for our understanding of the EU and the UK, all of which are relatively under-researched and/or their policy and social implications are not well understood. First, the changing patterns and characteristics of social inequality within and across member states, as well as the ways these are shaped by new developments in the political economy of welfare in the EU. Second, the development and extension of markets in social protection and public services in the EU single market. Third, the development of transnational, private and informal social protection by EU residents. In relation to how these trends might be addressed in research, we identify the need to develop a “third generation of comparative research”, to integrate comparisons of the interaction of EU-level and member-state policymaking across countries and across policies. Finally, recommendations are provided as to how existing and future research in these areas might be better utilised and its policy impact enhanced.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)
Commissioning bodyEconomic and Social Research Council
Number of pages24
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • social policy
  • European Union
  • welfare
  • social inequality
  • transnational social protection
  • social protection
  • public service markets
  • EU migration
  • EU social policy


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