Welfare State Reform “from Below”: Democratization of Social Policy via Social Work Representation of Weak Interests? (DemSoz)
At the core of this collaborative project, between the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (TH Köln) and the University of Duisburg-Essen (UDE), on social work advocacy in Germany lie important questions of democratic theory: How and by whom are social policy reforms initiated and implemented? How are pathways of participation utilized?
The five planned sub-research projects (SP) are thematically linked and combine two disciplinary perspectives. On the one hand, the project adopts the policy cycle model from political science and focuses on social workers’ political activities, in particular welfare associations’ advocacy on behalf of marginalized interests. Specific policy phases — problem definition, agenda setting, policy formulation, and implementation — are examined in each sub-research project.
On the other hand, the project innovatively contributes to social work research on social workers in political office. Here, the focus is turned to how social workers’ lobbying as career politicians aligns with service users’ interests. Central to this is the extent to which the needs and interests of the long-term unemployed, who are capable of working, and their family members are taken into account in social policy reform processes at the federal, state, and local level.