GRM 2010 GRM 2011

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Social Policy and Labour in GCC
Paper Proposal Text :
Social Policy and Labor in the GCC - Abstract of Proposed Paper
Massoud Karshenas and Valentine M. Moghadam

Social policy in the GCC region is examined in the context of (a) political transformations underway in Arab countries, (b) existing economic realities in the region and globally, and (c) socio-demographics and population dynamics in GCC.
The Arab Spring – with its grievances over social inequalities and demands for citizen participation and rights – has given rise to key questions regarding the role of social policy in the future trajectory of socio-political and economic transformation and stability the MENA region.
GCC countries, despite their wealth, are not immune to the grievances and demands of the Arab Spring, due mainly to the presence of extreme forms of exclusion, of which the highly segmented nature of the labour markets is a prominent example. In our paper we argue that social policy will be a critical link in the emergence and sustainability of socio-economic and political systems in the region, and we examine the possibility of introducing policies that can be democratic, inclusive, and developmental. For this purpose we provide a framework of analysis of the type of social policy regimes in the GCC countries, highlighting the shortcomings and deficits that need to be addressed by policy makers.
Our framework builds on previous work (Karshenas and Moghadam 2006) that provides a historical and comparative analysis of social policy regimes in MENA. We situate the GCC countries in that framework while highlighting their specificities, particularly those arising from the presence of a large pool of socially excluded migrant workers.
Conceptual framework: links between social policy, democracy and development
We borrow elements from three inter-related strands of social development theorizing.
One is the rights-based approach discussed by Marshall (1964) in his analysis of the evolution of civil, political, and social rights of citizenship in democratic countries. These rights have been codified in UN conventions; they also form the underlying conceptual framework of the rights-based approach to development highlighted in the Arab Development Reports and in some ESCWA policy papers. We argue that the civil, political and social rights of citizenship are also essential for sustained development and successful participation in the global economy.
Second, we draw on the literature on the evolution of welfare regime clusters in advanced democracies following the seminal work of Esping-Andersen (1990). Though his typology of welfare regimes (liberal, conservative / corporatist, social democratic) are not readily replicable to MENA countries, his methodology of investigating the historical roots of welfare regimes in terms of the interaction among the state, family, and alliances between different social strata, classes, and civil society groups, can be fruitful in understanding the evolution of welfare regimes in GCC and other Arab countries. Third, we refer to recent research on social policy in a development context (Mkandawire 2001; Karshenas and Moghadam 2006), which applies the two approaches above to developing countries and puts a spotlight on the role of the state, its responsibility for the application of human rights norms, and the positive relationship between comprehensive social provisioning and socio-economic development.
Combining the three approaches will inform our analysis and critique of exclusion and inclusion in connection with youth, ethnic minorities, women, and especially migrant workers. These issues will be examined in terms of their implications for rights-based development in GCC, the social rights of labour, production of a knowledge-based economy, and integration in the global economy and world society. The paper will discuss GCC ratification of relevant international treaties, provide social indicators, and elucidate GCC social development under the following headings:
1. Education and human capital formation
2. Health and social protection
3. Gender inequality
4. Social Security and labour markets

References Cited and Select Bibliography
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