SPA Annual Conference 2021

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In light of the current pandemic, we will be moving our 2021 Social Policy Association Annual Conference, originally planned for Swansea, online. This year’s theme is ‘Global challenges – national social policy responses?’.  The conference invites participants to reflect on local, national and international responses to global challenges such as the Covid-19 pandemic and particularly welcomes contributions which reflect on gendered, ethnic, socioeconomic, and geographical differences.

Call for papers

In the wake of a global pandemic, the place of social policy grows ever more prominent.  The experience of COVID-19 has laid bare inequalities, unfairnesses and structural problems within societies of diverse kinds.  These sit alongside longer-standing global challenges – such as the climate emergency, and economic iniquities between the global north and south – and current social trends and political events: from rising income inequality to the rise of right-wing populism, and from Brexit to crises of social care.  These factors can be viewed panoramically, across nations – but their implications are felt locally, in everyday lives.

On top of the global health crisis, the pandemic poses important challenges to policy makers in mitigating the far-reaching economic and social consequences of COVID-19. Fiscal and welfare responses to the global pandemic have already exposed the huge strain on health and care systems, with local and national variation in terms of provision available exposing the importance of welfare institutions for containing and mitigating the effects of the pandemic. The stakes of social policy interventions at national and regional levels are high, and their implications can seem increasingly urgent. For example, containment policies, such as social distancing and working from home revealed the importance of education and caring, as key sites for social reproduction, enabling or constraining workers ability to re-enter the labour market. These transitions remain largely conditioned by gender, race and class. Similar inequalities apply to workers in jobs requiring high levels of physical proximity while for others, transforming their personal space and housing into a distanced workplace remains challenging.  And meanwhile, the pandemic and responses to it may obscure or exacerbate existing problems facing the planet, across and within nations.

Submission of papers and symposia

We invite proposals for papers and symposia (three or more papers on a particular theme) which address these issues and challenges, in connection with any area of social policy.  Papers may be comparative or focus on particular national contexts.  They may be historical or future-facing.  They may work within specific areas of policy, or across different domains.  They may address interventions, or absences of action.  As always with the SPA conference, we welcome the broadest range of focal points and approaches – but these are areas and topics which may resonate especially strongly with the overall conference theme:

  • Ageing society/ demographic change / inter-generational issues
  • COVID-19 and the ‘pandemic economy’
  • Care, social welfare and social reproduction
  • Decolonisation
  • Environmental challenges and social inequalities
  • Global social policy and development
  • Housing
  • Labour market
  • Regional/local/devolved policy in response to global challenges
  • Social policy after Brexit

For papers, abstracts should be 200-400 words. Proposals for symposia should consist of a title and 200-word outline of the aims of the symposium as well as details of the organiser, contributors, (including email addresses) and abstracts. All abstracts and symposium proposals will be reviewed by reviewers from our Programme Committee prior to acceptance.

Registration and abstract submission will be announced in January 2021.

In the meantime for any queries please contact: