Project A6:

Welfare state reform support from below: linking individual attitudes and organized interests in Europe


Jun.-Prof. Dr. Katja Möhring


Elias Naumann, PhD / Maximiliane Reifenscheid / Andreas Weiland


Dr. Benedikt Bender / Prof. Dr. Bernhard Ebbinghaus /
Prof. Dr. Timo Weishaupt / Prof. Dr. Claus Wendt

 Duration:01.01.2018 - 31.12.2021



Public opinion and organized interests are seen as major obstacles to changing the status quo of social policies. Far-reaching reforms of welfare states are politically risky for governments as they have to fear electoral backlash and opposition from interest groups. The long-term goal of the project is to analyze the positioning of organized interests and public opinion on social policy reform issues as well as the feedback of reforms on individual attitudes and collective interest strategies. In the third phase, the project plans to investigate the dynamics of continuing reforms and their social outcome on the adaptive positioning of organized interests and public opinion. It continues to study three important social policy fields that vary in popularity and interest cleavages: pensions, healthcare and un/employment policy, while adding also family policy, a crucial reform issue from a life-course and gender perspective. Based on text analyses of organized interests, multivariate analyses of survey data and national panel studies, the project examines the changing positioning of collective and individual actors in respect to these ongoing social policy reforms. By comparing selected European countries, in particular Germany, Britain and France, it maps different welfare state settings and interest-intermediation systems to show their impact on the political economy of welfare state reform. The project has also been participating in the GIP, regularly conducting GIP modules on social policy reforms. The project contributes to the SFB’s overall theme by focusing on the impact of different institutional contexts on individual and collective actors’ positioning on social policy reform issues in a comparative and dynamic perspective.