Brock University

Innovative Social Policies in Transitional Societies I

Social scientists in Canada and beyond are devoting themselves for the improvement of human society in every courner of the globe. This session will include social policy studies and practices in transitional societies and fast-growing new economies in different continents. It will be a platform for the social scientists that have or will contribute to the fast changing world to exchange their thoughts and ideas; particularly those with innovative approaches to challenging socioeconomic issues at policy front, such as social security, health care, housing, pension, migration, and employment.

Session Organizer: Weizhen Dong, University of Toronto, weizhen.dong@utoronto.ca

 

Power and public policy in semi-periphery: Employment and labour-market policies in the post-socialist European Union member countries

Ivanka Knezevic, Department of Sociology University of Toronto Scarborough , knezevic@chass.utoronto.ca

This paper will analyse changes in employment and labour-market policies and regulations in post-socialist countries in the European Union. As other authors have noted, such changes are difficult to quantify, but are likely to have substantial effect on inequality. The changes take place in the context of these countries’ dependence on foreign direct investment and free trade within the EU.

Overall tenor of these changes can be summarized using Polanyi’s old, but not outdated, concept of recommodificatioan. Our focus, however, will be on complex power relations that influence idiosyncratic patterns of transposition of the EU employment and labour market policies to the new members. We maintain that the traditional tripartite model of power distribution in employment relations (state, corporate and organized-labour) is insufficient to explain them and propose a more nuanced institutionalist model, including international political and corporate actors (among them, the EU itself), power relations between elected politicians and civil service in these countries (marked by opportunistic changes to social policies), and the shifts in the distribution of power between the central and municipal levels of civil service (which receive differential support from the EU policy advisors).

Croatia, a “second-tier” post-socialist accession state, lagging behind the “star” reform states of Poland and the Baltic, but for that reason all the more receptive to transfer of both economic institutions and policy directions from the EU, provides a testing case for our analysis.

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Golden Years may be Tarnished for Many Canadians: Pension Policies and their Impact on Elderly Immigrants

Dunja Miskovic, University of Waterloo, dunja_miskovic@hotmail.com

Many elderly Canadians do not receive adequate pensions; older immigrants in particular. Prior to their retirement, they have a great deal of difficulty getting their credentials recognized, found a well paid job, building up either private or public pension plans and saving up for retirement. Their shorter work tenure in Canada, compared to their Canadian born counterparts, affects their pensions negatively, resulting in less income to live off of throughout their retirement. Therefore, the unequal access to retirement income among senior immigrants, compared to their Canadian-born counterparts, poses a serious social problem. There is an urgent need for social and economic policies that are without barriers to this group's pension access. This study will not only shed light on the financial and social barriers immigrants face when entering retirement, but also explore innovative and fair policies to improve this group's access to retirement benefits.

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Innovative Strategies for Migrant Workers’ Wellbeing

Weizhen Dong, University of Waterloo, weizhen@uwaterloo.ca

With the agricultural mechanization and the social specialization of agricultural management services, the Chinese farmers will be more liberated from agricultural production, and more active in such public affairs as business and market operation, community service, and rural governance. Therefore, social security system for rural China should reflect the trend. We propose a social security model that encourages the farmers to accumulate their assets beyond the triditional sense of income for the wellbeing of themselves, their families, and their community.

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