Handbook of European Social Policy
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Handbook of European Social Policy

Edited by Patricia Kennett and Noemi Lendvai-Bainton

This Handbook will comprise of 29 original pieces from key contributors to the field of European social policy. It is intended to capture the ‘state of the art’ in European social policy and to generate and contribute to debates on the the future of European social policy in the 21st Century. It will be a comprehensive and authoritative resource for research and teaching covering themes and policy areas including social exclusion, pensions, education, children and family, as well as mobility and migration, multiculturalism, and climate change.
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Chapter 18: The territorial dimension of social policies and the new role of cities

Yuri Kazepov and Eduardo Barberis


The territorial dimension of social citizenship has for long been a neglected perspective in comparative social policy analysis. Conversely, in urban studies the importance of national regulatory systems has been underplayed and the nested nature of cities has been for long disregarded. More generally, scholars took for granted that citizenship systems were tied to the national level. The deep structural changes that occurred after the end of the 1970s challenged the social contract at the basis of national citizenship regimes in European countries, affecting the functioning of welfare institutions and their effectiveness. In doing so, they started in the past two decades important changes in the organization of social policies, which are re-drawing the boundaries of ‘social citizenship’ bringing about a prominent role of cities. Indeed, an intense reform activity addressed most social policy areas in two directions: on the one hand, by changing the territorial dimension at which social policies are designed, managed, funded and implemented; and, on the other hand, by increasing the number and type of actors involved in these very same activities. The joint effect of these two processes brought about a decentralization of regulatory powers and an increased role of non-governmental actors. The aim of this contribution is to explore the potential impact of these changes on the boundaries of citizenship considering the subsidiarization process underlying them and focusing on the relevance gained by cities. This implies investigating the implications of changing scalar configurations and new governance arrangements, providing a territorialized overview of citizenship regimes in some European countries considering welfare systems both in their vertical and horizontal dimensions. More specifically, in section 2 the relationship between citizenship, social policies and the production of scale is addressed; that is, how changing regulatory boundaries define new redistributive communities with different spatial configurations. In section 3, four scalar regimes are presented. They complement a nationalized view of citizenship and social policy models with a territorial dimension. Section 4 provides a synthetic overview of the opportunities and challenges of the subsidiarization process. The assumption is that they are unevenly distributed across countries and that they bring about diverging outcomes of the common trends. In the concluding section, we plea for a new research agenda that needs to disentangle the concurrent effects of policies at different territorial levels and the existing intra-national differences as key dimensions for understanding the impact of changes and the way they influence the role of cities, their resources and their capacities for social innovation.

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