The Social Policy Association (SPA) holds an international academic conference each summer. This is a key time for the UK and international social policy community to share current research. The conference regularly attracts up to 250 delegates who are researchers, teachers, students and practitioners of social policy from the UK and overseas. We come together to share research, promote social policy in teaching and learning, and to advance the role of research in policy making, practice and wider public debates.

2022 Conference: Inter-generationality: Challenges and Prospects

This year’s annual Social Policy Association conference will take place at Swansea University from 6-8 July 2022 on the theme of ‘Inter-generationality: Challenges and Prospects’. It will be delivered in a ‘hybrid’ format so that key parts of the conference will also be accessible online.

Note: this announcement was updated on 24th January 2022 from the initial version posted 22nd December 2021. Please note changes of dates for abstract submission

Inter-generationality: Challenges and Prospects

First confirmed keynote speaker: Baroness Minouche Shafik (London School of Economics)


This year’s annual Social Policy Association conference will take place at Swansea University, but in a ‘hybrid’ format so that key parts of the conference will also be accessible online. This year’s theme is ‘Inter-generationality: Challenges and Prospects’.  We invite participants to reflect on that theme from all available angles, in any national context – and welcome contributions from researchers at all stages of their careers, and from any disciplinary perspective relevant to social policy in theory and practice.

While every era faces questions about the treatment of different generations, in ours they have become especially pressing.  Lengthening lifespans, changing birth-rates and an increasing awareness of the implications of past and current policies for future generations all have implications for how we understand the scope, priorities and values of social policy.  And talk of inter-generational clashes of interest – between, for example, ‘baby-boomers’ and the generations which have followed – is high in the public consciousness.  The panning-out of these issues and trends is inflected by other social divisions – for example class, gender and ‘race’ and ethnicity – and has been exacerbated by challenges to previous presumptions about the provision of social and public services, and to the institutional legacies of past generations.  As elsewhere, these trends and impacts have been highlighted all the more starkly by the experience of the Covid-19 pandemic, and political changes such as Brexit and the emergence of right-wing populism.  And they touch upon every area of social policy, often unsettling previous assumptions and posing fresh questions about how we view the role of welfare states, the relationship between family and state, our responsibilities to the vulnerable and the values which inform decisions about the allocation of resources and the nature of services themselves. 

In all these senses, inter-generational issues are at the heart of many of the most urgent challenges faced by contemporary societies.

About our first keynote speaker

Baroness Minouche Shafik is Director of the London School of Economics, having previously served as the youngest ever Vice President of the World Bank, Permanent Secretary of the Department for International Development, Deputy Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund, and Deputy Governor of the Bank of England.  She is author of the widely acclaimed What We Owe to Each Other (2021), which makes a case for a new social contract fit for the 21st century.

Submission of proposed 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 specific 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
  • Impacts of Covid-19 and other public health emergencies
  • Provision for future generations
  • The social security system and stages of the life course
  • The sustaining of social care
  • Impacts of poverty between generations
  • Children’s rights and welfare
  • Education over the life course
  • Taxation
  • Social policy after Brexit
  • Regional/local/devolved policy in response to changing inter-generational dynamics

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 of 200-400 words.

All abstracts and symposium proposals will be reviewed by reviewers from our Programme Committee prior to acceptance.

Abstract submission

Opens: 31 January 2022 (link to be provided)

Closes: 14 March 2022

In the meantime, in case of queries please contact:

Follow updates on the conference on our conference webpage here.

Past conferences:

SPA Annual Conference Online, 2021.

Keynote speakers: Mark Drakeford, AM; Professor Sue Yeandle; Professor Shahra Razavi.

Programme: Click here to download


rain boots on a fence SPA Digital Festival, 2020.

Keynote Speakers: Alison Garnham and Gurminder Bhambra.
Programme: Click here to download.

Durham, 2019.
Theme: Securing the Future: the Challenge for Social Policy.
Keynote Speakers: John Solomos, Claire Alexander, Gary Craig, Nasar Meer, Coretta Philips, Ellen M. Immergut, Daniel Béland.
Programme: Click here to download.

York, 2018.
Theme: In the Shadow of the 2008 Crisis: Social Policy Ten Years On.
Keynote Speakers: Eftychia Achtsioglou, Bea Cantillon, Hartley Dean.
Programme: Click here to download.

Durham, 2017.
Theme: Social Inequalities: Research, Theory and Policy.
Keynote Speakers: Andrew Sayer, Wolfgang Streeck, Saskia Sassen.
Programme: Click here to download.

2016 Conference
Belfast, 2016.
Theme: Social Policy: Radical, Resistant, Resolute.
Keynote Speakers:Tess Ridge, Kathryn Edin, David Lewis.
Programme: Click here to read.

Visit Belfast
Belfast, 2015.
Theme: Social Policy in the Spotlight: Change, Continuity and Challenge.
Keynote Speakers: Mary O’Hara, Jane Jenson, Colin Crouch, David Donnison.

Conference 2014
Sheffield, 2014.
Theme: Social Policy Confronting Change: Resistance, Resilience and Radicalism.

Previous Conferences
Previous Conferences
 Details on past SPA conferences before 2014

SPA Conference 2014
If you have a general query about SPA conferences, please get in touch with us via We are always keen to hear from people in institutions that might be interested in hosting a future SPA conference.