Anyone who knew and worked with Bob would surely agree that he was as much concerned with Social Policy as a political practice of policymaking as he was with it as a field of academic study and research. Over the years that we worked together, since his Finnish government-funded Globalism and Social Policy Programme (GASPP) from the late 1990s, I was struck by his insistence that academic research should tangibly and directly engage with, as he would put it, ‘real questions’ faced by policy activists in ‘real’ policy worlds beyond the academy. It was not enough for him to undertake primary research or to engage with theoretical perspectives: he was most interested in ‘translating’ extant bodies of research and knowledge into forms of support for progressive global policy reform movements for social change. ‘What is to be done?’ was always the most
interesting question for him.
This was apparent during the work we undertook on world-regionalism and social policy. We were both frustrated by the limitations of the existing body and orientation of research in this area. Social Policy (like so many other disciplines) focused on the European Union (EU) to the neglect of diverse world-regional social policy formations worldwide. At the same time, regional integration studies lamentably failed to recognise the overt social policy agendas of the formations being examined or the impacts of regional economic integration on social policymaking, social provision and welfare restructuring. It was against this background that Bob and I worked to co-initiate and - develop what was then a new (global) social policy research agenda (Deacon et al., 2007, 2010; Yeates, 2014; Yeates and Deacon, 2006, 2010). Bob’s primary concern was inevitably with the
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by Nicola Yeates
This article is an edited extract from the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) Issue Brief authored by Nicola 2017 and is published with the kind permission of UNRISD. The full issue brief can be freely accessed from here
. The views expressed by the author are not necessarily those of UNRISD.