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By Stefanie Börner (auth.)

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Extra info for Belonging, Solidarity and Expansion in Social Policy

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Especially in the field of social policy, identity politics can be crucial for the debate, as has been analysed by Béland and Lecours (2008). They show that political actors or representatives of nationalist movements argue in terms of common values, identity and even mentality both to bring forward certain welfare policies and to strengthen the solidarity of the respective (sub-state) national community. The same applies to the historical construction of welfare states. In France, for example, parliamentarians deployed the solidarity discourse in order to promote their preferred social security schemes and distance themselves from the German system (Kott 1996; Senghaas 2012).

So with the help of theoretical concepts and categories, it aims to relate gained historical insights to present events and thus advances an inter-temporal dialogue that enables us to make theoretical insights about past processes fruitful for the explanation of current and future developments. Lots of studies, although operating within constructivist terms such as contingent, multiple or fluid, paradoxically continue to theorise the phenomena in terms of natural, ahistorical and fixed categories (Somers 1994; Brubaker and Cooper 2000).

The simple fact that phenomena, institutions, problems and so on, always have a history, are bound in time, space and context, and are shaped by actors, which in turn are shaped by institutions, becomes vivid. Thus, historical sociology can best be described as the attempt to understand the relationship of personal activity and experience on the one hand and social organisation on the other as something that is continuously constructed in time. It makes the continuous process of construction the focal concern of social analysis.

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