Call for contributions to the special issue of Transfer: European Review of Labour and Research ‘From just transition to a new concept of the welfare state’, 3-2022

Editors: Philippe Pochet, Bela Galgoczi

Until recent decades, social welfare systems in Europe were disconnected from ecological concerns and policies. The objectives, instruments and actors concerned in each were largely different. Environmental and climate science on the one hand, and the analysis and theoretical foundations of social welfare systems on the other, have emerged and developed in isolated silos. The same can be said about concepts of environmental and climate justice versus approaches of social justice and industrial relations research, resulting in very different concepts of a ‘just transition’.

Environmental inequalities become embedded in social ones, making this an issue of justice. Do the principles of ‘climate justice’, ‘just transition’ and ‘social justice’ provide a consistent doctrine? Do they lead to integrated or complementary policies? Which policy areas are or should be impacted? Health? Employment? Should these policies in different policy areas be radically rethought in light of the limits to growth?

Today, we are living through a historic moment of synthesis: environmental policies are becoming social policies, and vice versa. This evolution is a conflictual one, involving a mixture of consensus and dissensus. For four decades, European social welfare systems have been experiencing retrenchment and decline, with higher selectivity in the allocation of social benefits, and increasing commodification and marketisation. Meanwhile, ecological concerns and policies are developing at different speeds. Can the cluster analysis approach often used in welfare state studies also be applied to environmental policies?

The first part of this proposed Transfer issue will be devoted to a discussion that expands the just transition narrative towards the perspective of an ‘eco-social state’ that also assumes a new welfare policy framework; this part will have two initial contributions and two discussion papers. The second part of the issue takes an on-the-ground perspective where the integration of labour and environmental protection evolves through collective bargaining and social partnerships.

We encourage submission of proposals for contributions that address a wide range of issues related to the linkages between ecology and welfare. At the same time, we are actively seeking papers that address the following questions and themes:

  • The climate-welfare nexus: how different approaches of the ‘just (green) transition concept’ can be aligned with new welfare state related research approaches? • Beyond GDP, beyond growth: what would this mean for a new concept of the welfare state?
  • The role of actors and alliances with a view also to interest conflicts between them.
  • Levels of governance, how do supranational (European), national and regional levels interact with each other taking into account that climate change is a global challenge, environmental issues but also adaptation to climate change are mostly local and we also have the principle of subsidiarity.
  • The role of trade unions.

Proposals for contributions including abstracts of 400 words should be sent to the Editor of Transfer, Philippe Pochet and to Bela Galgoczi before the 13th of May 2021. Full manuscripts will be due by 30 November 2021. The articles will be subject to double-blind peer-review before being accepted for publication. In general, comparative articles will be preferred.