WEST: Sustainable societies in the 21st century: From welfare states to eco-social states, Project 1: Cross-national comparative or supranational analyses

We offer supervision to MA students who would like to study the welfare state-climate change nexus, from a cross-national comparative and/or supranational European perspective.  


Since the 1970s European societies have undergone significant transformation. Labour markets and family structures have become more instable. International economic competition associated with globalisation have intensified, and the consequences of expected demographic trends have put social protection systems and eldercare under pressure. These developments have underpinned the emergence of new kinds of social risks. Therefore, in the 1990s and the 2000s much of the comparative welfare state literature was concerned with how welfare states could and should respond to these changes. The sustainability of advanced welfare states was at stake, but this challenge was mainly couched in social and economic terms.

Two decades into the new millennium the mentioned challenges of population ageing, instable labour markets and family structures have not disappeared. Nonetheless, the question of sustainability in the context of European welfare states can no longer be reduced to a matter of balancing long-term fiscal and social concerns. In the 21st century it should be commonplace for social policy scholarship to include the ecological dimension when discussing the sustainability of modern welfare states.


Examples of questions and themes that could be further developed in a thesis include (but are not limited to):

  • The politics of eco-social policy: What social, ecological and economic interests and associated actor constellations are mobilised in the political struggles over the ‘green’ transition at national and/or European level? How and why do these differ across countries and with what consequences for policy output?
  • The political potential for reforms that push welfare states in a ‘sustainable’ direction, including studies of popular attitudes, political party/electoral manifestos or elite discourses.
  • Are some welfare models or varieties of capitalism better at balancing long-term ecological and contemporary social concerns. If so, what are the mechanisms driving differential policy performances?
  • What is the significance of factors like inequality and distribution in different types of welfare states? Under which institutional conditions do they hamper or facilitate the development of balanced eco-social policy agendas? 
  • There is a knowledge gap regarding the implications of climate change and mitigation for the social risks against which traditional welfare states are designed to protect, such as poverty. Related to this, are the ‘old’ tools and institutions of social protection sufficient to meet the social challenges linked to climate change/climate policy? What implications do climate change have for the funding of future welfare programmes?

Methods and data:

Students will develop their dissertation topics and research designs in collaboration with the supervisor(s). Dissertations may be based on both qualitative and quantitative methods and data, depending on the chosen thematic focus. Examples of potential qualitative data include official government documents, political party programmes, stakeholder position papers, expert interviews.

Quantitative data could, for instance, be aggregate comparative statistical indicators from Eurostat, OECD, the UN and/or other international and/or national sources, cross-nationally comparative or national individual opinion survey data (including the European Social Survey, Eurobarometer, the International Social Survey Programme).

Potential supervisors (subject to availability and dissertation topic)

Mi Ah Schoyen, NOVA

Marianne Takle, NOVA

Axel West Pedersen, NOVA/SAM

Therese Dokken, NOVA

We also collaborate with researchers from CICERO in Oslo, the University of Tübingen, Germany and the University of Southampton, UK.

Contact person: We encourage potentially interested students to contact Mi Ah Schoyen (miah.schoyen@oslomet.no) as soon as possible and to submit a short outline (1-2 pages) of preliminary ideas along with a brief CV by March 15 2022.

Download the presentation as pdf here:

Legg igjen en kommentar

Din e-postadresse vil ikke bli publisert. Obligatoriske felt er merket med *