1963-2013 - 50 years of Research for Social Change

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Back | Programme Area: Special Events

Social and Political Dimensions of the Global Economic Crisis 2009

  • Project from: 2009 to 2010


The social and political dimensions of the financial crisis and subsequent reforms have received little attention.

New political alignments allowed global financial regulations to be substantially changed in the early 1970s. With the political ascendancy of finance capital and extensive capital market liberalization that followed, social goals (full employment) were delinked from economic policy making, while macroeconomic stabilization and “fiscal prudence” replaced them as primary objectives. The period of capital market liberalization was also a period of growing inequality, both between and within countries, along with labour market informalization and changes in state-market relations; changes in housing, pensions and wage policies; the rise in the structural and instrumental power of financial institutions and transnational corporations; and the general disembedding of the economy from society and from democratic politics.

Northern and Southern governments, and different social actors, have responded in diverse ways to the crisis. The current context provides new openings for activism, social pacts, public policy and debate on a number of key fronts aimed at reintegrating “the economic” and “the social” through democratic politics: (re)centering job creation, poverty reduction and well-being as the goals of economic policy making; reconnecting redistribution and social policy with economic policy making; and recognizing and supporting the unpaid work that goes into social reproduction and care, often intensified during crises. For developing country governments to have greater policy space as well as stronger accountability to their citizens, social dialogues need to include a diversity of social forces, including farmers, workers and social movements.

On 12–13 November 2009, the United Nations Research Institute for Social Development (UNRISD) will host an international conference in Geneva to better understand the social and political dimensions of the current crisis and subsequent policy and institutional reforms, and their implications for developing countries. Please click on the 'Events' link to the right of this page to access more information about this event.