Social protection, public action and territories: new arrangements and new challenges in the implementation of social policies in urban spaces

Arnaldo Lanzara, Renata Bichir, and Ursula Peres

Social policies are facing changes and challenges all over the world, due to durable (and more complex) patterns of inequalities, new social demands, diversity of publics, new decision-making and implementation arrangements, which go side by side with financial constraints and political disputes. Some countries in the developed world have shrunken their welfare systems in the last decades, whereas some developing countries have extended their social protection systems, but especially through policies targeted at the poorest.

The social policy production is increasingly complex, encompassing diversity of demands and issues, new decision-making forums, new implementation arrangements, and complex networks of state and non-state actors. Considering these new governance arrangements and the fact that public policy production does not concern only the State, some authors stress the relevance of the concept of “public action”, instead of the “state-centric” notion of “public policies”.

The public action takes place in a multi-level governance system (national, regional and local), in which local matters: even when decision-making processes take place at higher levels, there is a multitude of local disputes and constraints, local institutions, and territorial demands on the part of different social groups which shape the public action in multiple directions. Besides, implementation is not only a matter of “execution”, but it is, itself, a process full of decisions and transformations, with contingent results.

In this sense, this section aims at discussing the role cities play in the multi-level governance of social policies, focusing on the implementation of different types of policies in the territory. We invite contributions discussing the following topics:

  • Formal and informal arrangements to implement social policies in the cities, with a discussion on how these arrangements constitute forms of transgression;
  • Instruments of public policy: how regulations, legislation, statistics and different resources are designed to “manveronica age” different policies and territories? How these instruments may be employed by transgressive forces in urban space?;
  • Modes of coordination between state and non-state actors in the city;
  • Institutional and actors capacities, modes of action and repertoires for the promotion of social rights in the urban space.

Comparative analyses, multidisciplinary perspectives and mixed-methods approaches are especially welcome.