Borbála Kovács

junior fellow
EURIAS cohort 2018/2019
discipline Political Science
Visiting faculty at the Department of Political Science, Central European University

Research project

Retrenchment Politics in Contemporary Eastern Europe: the Emergence of Formal Insecurity Regimes?

 

The study aims to document and explain what I have called the exclusionary politics of social policy, initially observed in relation to paid parental leave in the Romanian context (Kovács, 2015).

In the context of inflexible employment-related eligibility criteria and the absence of an equivalent universal, flat-rate benefit (as in the German, Hungarian or Slovak case, for instance), policy design precludes close to half of Romanian parents with young children – notably those with no or haphazard formal labour market participation – from receiving financial support to care for their young children during the early years. Subsequent work has revealed that policy instruments across a broader set of social policy domains, including old-age pensions and active labour market policy, and in other post-socialist countries also, e.g. Hungary, show a similar exclusionary logic: the most disadvantaged face systematic exclusion from core social benefit programmes and social services through policy design (Kovács, Polese and Morris, forthcoming). It was concluded that Hungary and Romania, though often categorised as different types of post-socialist welfare regimes, are more similar than dissimilar due to the direction of welfare state adaptation during post-socialist decades: a peculiar kind of retrenchment, characterised not by an increasingly greater conformity with the residual welfare state model (Pierson, 1994: 17), geared towards the least advantaged in society, but rather an increasingly more pro-middle-class welfare regime at the expense of the most disadvantaged.

 

The outcome of this peculiar retrenchment process is a dual welfare regime that we have termed a ‘formal insecurity’ regime. The study proposes the systematic documentation of this exclusionary feature of social programmes and social services provision across a broader set of social policy domains, over time, in a small number of post-socialist welfare states, outlining the policy design elements that produce formal insecurity regimes. It then proceeds to explain this outcome, honing in on the politics of social policy adaptation. The study is geared, first and foremost, towards theorising what is believed to be an increasingly more salient feature of social politics not just in post-socialist Central and Eastern Europe, but farther afield.

 

Biography

 

Borbála Kovács is visiting faculty at the Department of Political Science, Central European University. She holds a DPhil in Social Policy from the University of Oxford. Borbála's research focuses on family policy analysis, informality and welfare state change and the sociology of childcare in Central and Eastern Europe (with a focus on Romania).

 

Selected publications

 

Family Policy and the Organisation of Childcare – Hierarchies of Care Ideals, Palgrave Macmillan, London, 2018.

 

‘Critiquing the ‘sharing’ economies concept through the prism of informality – case studies from Romania and Albania’, with J. Morris, A. Polese & D. Imami, Cambridge Journal of Regions, Economy and Society, vol. 10, no. 2, 2017, pp. 365–378. 

 

‘Adjusting social welfare and social policy in Central and Eastern Europe: growth, crisis and recession’, with A. Polese & J. Morris, in P. Kennett & N. Lendvai (eds), Handbook of European Social Policy, Edward Elgar, Cheltenham, 2017, pp. 194-217.

 

‘Socio-economic deficits and informal childcare services in Romania: the policy drivers of the commodification of care from a micro-level perspective’, Journal of Contemporary Central and Eastern Europe, vol. 24, no. 3, 2016, pp. 239-254.

 

‘‘The Totality of Caring’: Conceptualising Childcare Arrangements for Micro-level Empirical Research’, International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol. 35, no. 9-10, 2015, pp. 699-719. 

institut

junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS)
discipline History
2017
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2018/2019
Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS)
discipline Political Philosophy
2018
junior fellow
EURIAS promotion 2017/2018
Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies (AIAS)
discipline Communication
2017