The Role of International Organizations in Social Policy

The Role of International Organizations in Social Policy

Ideas, Actors and Impact

Edited by Rune Ervik, Nanna Kildal and Even Nilssen

This book considers the role of international organizations and their promotion of ideas and recommendations in social and health policy. It explores a wide range of organizations, scrutinizing their ideas-based content, their role as policy actors and their impact on national policy.

Chapter 2: Comparing Social Policy Ideas Within the EU and the OECD

Nanna Kildal

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy


Nanna Kildal INTRODUCTION This chapter is part of a broader project that asks how national social policy is shaped by the interplay between international and national levels; the first level is represented by the EU and the OECD, the second by European welfare states: Germany, Norway and Denmark. The present study explores the normative content of the policy ideas furthered by the EU and the OECD in the areas of employment and social protection, by analysing their respective policy guidelines and recommendations.1 These are compared and examined within a framework of justification and legitimacy, which is a condition for obtaining authority (Weber [1919] 2004). Three social policy discourses are brought to light; the discourses on ‘rights’, ‘rights and duties’ and ‘make work pay’. Furthermore, as the EU and the OECD have had a long-standing co-operation in various policy areas, the chapter examines their collaborative efforts in these policy fields. The reasons for choosing the EU and the OECD for this comparative study of social policy ideas may not be obvious. Yet these organizations share some important features. Firstly, they were established in the same period, in 1957 and 1961 respectively, both as organizations for economic co-operation and development, and both have increasingly and almost simultaneously directed attention to social policy issues during the last thirty years. More importantly though, neither of them possesses the competence for getting their respective analyses and recommendations directly on to national agendas as regards the social policy areas; their functions are limited to moral pressures....

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