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Thomas Faist

This chapter looks at a crucial aspect of the transnational social question: how efforts to provide social protection for cross-border migrants affect social inequalities. While the ‘old’ social question of the conflict between workers and capitalists was addressed within the frames of national welfare states and social policies from the late nineteenth century onwards, the ‘new’ social question – running along diverse lines of inequalities such as gender, class, ethnicity and religion – has implications far beyond national borders since flows of persons, goods, capital and services are transnational. Migrations are of particular relevance for understanding the transnational social question because they link disparate and fragmented worlds of unequal life chances and social protection. Of particular interest is how cross-border social protection involving migrants serves to reinforce existing inequalities, e.g. between regions or within households, and creates new lines of inequalities. This state of affairs requires a rethinking of national social citizenship and its significance for the legitimation of social inequalities. There is no easy escape to global social policy, as we are dealing with complex local, national and cross-border assemblages of social protection and political struggles around it.