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DE Germany
Patrick Boadu, Danielle Gluns, Christina Rentzsch, Andrea Walter and Annette Zimmer (Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster)

Münster – Introduction

Local background of the social innovations

The context of welfare innovations in Münster is dominated by the overarching logic of competitiveness and investment (see City Report Münster, WP4). This discursive frame was established in the 1990s, when a coalition involving stakeholders from local politics and administration, the university and local entrepreneurship joined forces to promote Münster as an attractive location for businesses. The main aims were an increase in market efficiency and economic growth. Even though this discourse stems from economic considerations, it has been applied to all political sectors and therefore has important implications for the field of social policies as well1. Its logic is closely connected to the wider scientific and political discourse on the “third way” of welfare policy, the main elements of which shall be outlined in the following.

The main aim of the concept of the “third way2” is to recombine the paradigms of market efficiency and social justice in order to achieve equal opportunities. Through participation in the labour market, each individual shall be empowered to improve his/her own chances in life as well as contribute to the national economy (Jun 2000: 1514f.). The role of the state is confined to providing a framework in which market efficiency can be performed at its best and is close to neoliberal thinking in its priority for fiscal conservatism (Merkel 2000: 274). This leads to a micro-economic approach of increasing individual employability to further inclusion into the labour market instead of enhancing the number of available jobs through deficit spending. In this regard, the role of the state is that of a “social investment state” while personal responsibility and the meritocratic principle are emphasised (Merkel 2000: 277-9). This approach stands in contrast with the former “curing” or “caring” state.

At the same time, social policy in Münster is influenced by a strong catholic tradition, which leads to an emphasis on solidarity and subsidiarity and a connection to the concept of communitarianism (Vorländer 2001). Consequently, society has the duty to care for those who are unable to do so themselves. The smallest possible entity (the individual, the community, etc.) should be responsible for this, in order to avoid unnecessary collectivisation (Leuninger 2002: 21-6). The foundation for this claim lies in the high value of personal autonomy in the catholic tradition (Focke 1978: 192; Leuninger 2002: 20f.). Thus, the state should enable everyone to contribute actively to society, which stresses the social political focus on prevention and investments in human capital as a basis for competitiveness and participation (Leuninger 2002: 113-16, 121).

All of these aspects can be found in Münster’s welfare paradigm. Subsidiarity is promoted wherever possible, so that many public services are provided by private or third-sector organisations. During the last two decades, this trend has been reinforced by the need to decrease public spending. The labour market is considered the main promoter of social cohesion and participation, which is why (individual) employability shall be strengthened through welfare policies. As shown in WP4, the view prevails that prevention is a necessary and cost-effective approach for the welfare system.

This general frame of welfare has profound implications for social innovations, since they are not constructed at the drawing board. Instead, they are context-specific and embedded into the wider social, economic and political context (Moulaert et al. 2005). Accordingly, the context opens windows of opportunity 4 for social innovators and social entrepreneurs. It establishes the conditions social entrepreneurs encounter and thereby promote or inhibit new ideas. Regarding the role of municipal stakeholders and their influence on these windows of opportunity, this can mean:

  • a laissez-faire attitude, neither supporting nor obstructing an undertaking;
  • steering attempts, either through (1) financing enterprises, (2) incorporating them (and possibly providing the goods/services themselves), or (3) selective intervention at neuralgic points (in order to achieve the maximum impact through minimal financial engagement);
  • the obstruction of ideas, e.g. through legislation.

The following chapters will analyse different innovations undertaken in Münster regarding their organisation and implementation. The aim is to identify their reciprocal effects with the local welfare system in terms of local discourse and interaction of different local stakeholders. The findings will be discussed in a final chapter. The discussion will also draw conclusions regarding the sustainability and possible diffusion of the innovations studied herein.


Content keywords

Keywords: Activation | Activation policies | Case management | Child care | Child education | Citizen initiatives | Citizenship | Civil society | Co-funding | Co-production | Collaboration | Community | Community development | Democracy | Deregulation | Development | Diffusion | Disability | Employment services | Empowerment | Enabling | Entrepreneurialism | Entrepreneurship | European Social Fund | Family caregivers | Family Centres | Family needs | Family-minded | Gentrification | Governance | Grassroots initiatives | Housing corporation | Housing policy | Incubator | Integration | Labour market | Labour market integration | Local context | Local governance | Local governments | Local initiatives | Local welfare | Local welfare system | Lone mothers | Lone parent support | Micro-credit | Municipality | Neighbourhood | Neighbourhood revitalisation | Network | Networking | Participation | Partnerships | Personalising support | Political administrative system | Precarious working conditions | Preschool education | Privatisation | Public administration | Regional government | Segregation | Single mothers | Social and solidarity-based economy (SSE) | Social capital | Social cohesion | Social economy | Social enterprise | Social entrepreneurship | Social housing | Social housing policies | Social inclusion | Social investment | Social media | Subsidiarity | Sustainability | Third sector organisations | Unemployment | Urban gardening | Urban renewal | User choice | Welfare governance | Welfare mixes | Workfare | Young mothers | Youth unemployment

Münster – Introduction

Categories: Introduction

Münster – Introduction