COST Action IS1102 SO.S. COHESION - Social services, welfare state and places


In the 2nd year, activities concerned:

  • Task 1 – Closing the comparison of national/regional regulatory frameworks and organisational trajectories in social services (WG1)
  • Task 2 – First comparisons of concrete experiences and practices (case studies) in the area of care services (WG2)
  •  Task 4 – Continuation of dissemination and capacity building (WG4)

Each task was coordinated by the respective WG leader(s) and co-leader(s), whereas the overall scientific and methodological coordination was ensured by the WG Steering Committee (WG1, WG2 and WG4 leaders and co-leaders, plus chair and vice-chair).



(Source: Memorandum of Understanding) 

Task 1/WG1 - Comparison of national/regional regulatory trajectories and organisational frameworks in social services

This task was successfully carried out in the 1st year of action. The 2nd year was dedicated to the valorisation and dissemination of its output, including the publication of Action Working Papers (see Task 4 below).

Task 2/WG2 – Comparison of concrete experiences and practices (case studies) in the area of care services

As stated in the MoU (p. 16), the objective of Task 2 was to carry out ‘a comparison of concrete experiences and practices (case studies) in the area of care services’ across the different nations and regions participating in the Action. This was the central Task of the Action, stretching over a period of two years. Its aim was to identify, evaluate and compare current experiences and practices – i.e. concrete case studies – in the area of care services, in order to assess the effects of the restructuring of social services, from 5 perspectives: a) cost efficiency in relation to quality, choice, and satisfaction; b) democratic governance; c) social and territorial cohesion; d) the labour market of social workers; e) gender and equal opportunities (MoU pp. 17 and 23). 

The task was carried out by participants to WG2, coordinated by its appointed Leader Marisol Garcia a and by a number of Co-leaders, and significantly involved local stakeholders (see below). Participants identified emblematic cases for in-depth analysis and comparison across countries/regions. WG2 sub-groups – thematic or sectoral – were formed: a) care for older people and people with disabilities; b) children and childcare; c) services related to social assistance; d) housing; e) social services and the crisis; based on the preferences of participants. 

In order to optimise the comparability of case studies, templates were designed to frame the presentations of the different initiatives and experiences.

The structured comparison of case studies, which continued in the 3rd year of Action, provided the basis for Task 3/WG3 – Comparative assessment of good practices for policy recommendations, to be carried out in the 4th year.

The knowledge gathered in the course of Task 2 actively contributed to two of the three inter-related goals of Action IS1102, as stressed in the MoU: a) scientific advance, (through the sharing and comparison of the different local responses to the restructuring of social services); b) capacity building and dissemination of knowledge in both academic and non-academic circles, through the involvement of local stakeholders (policy makers, service administrations, service providers and workers, users), in local networks and workshops (see below).

Task 4/WG4 - Dissemination and capacity building

This was a ‘transversal’ task (see Chart F.1 in the MoU), the purpose of which was to socialise and disseminate the knowledge gathered in the course of the Action within both the academic community and the external audience of stakeholders, including policy makers, local administrations and social workers, service providers and service users (p. 17 of MoU).

In closing Task 1, the possibility was established to valorize and disseminate the acquired knowledge through the publication of the completed national/regional reports as Action Working Papers on the website with public access and a DOI (Digital Object Identifyer) code. 

The launch of Task 2 involved two main dissemination activities.

First, a further development of the action website, which involved:

  1. the set up of national/regional subpages (in local language) open to local stakeholders, for those parties that decided to engage in this experimentation;
  2. the implementation of a Repository of case studies hosting information on relevant experiences and initiatives (with reserved access).

Second, and most importantly, a number of local stakeholders networks were set up and local stakeholders workshops (LSW) were organised a number of partners. These local networks and workshops with local actors were a central and innovative feature of the Action, stressed throughout the MoU (pages 17, 23, 25, 26, 30, 34). Their aim was to promote a broader discussion by sharing, exchanging and reciprocally validating academic and non-academic knowledge (p. 25).  During the 2nd year of Action the feasibility of these local stakeholders networks and workshops were tested by a number of parties. Five one-day local workshops were organised and funded, involving 15-25 local actors and 1-2 national/foreign actors/experts/observers from the Action or invited.



(Source: Work&Budget Plan for 2nd year, 1st version – approved by the Cost Office in December 2012; Work&Budget Plan for 2nd year, 2nd version – approved by the Cost Office in June 2013)


A) Meetings

Management Committee meetings (2)

Two (half-day) MC meeting were scheduled in Year 2.

  • The first was in June 2013, in conjunction with the first WG2 Workshop (Reykjavík, Iceland). It was primarily dedicated to an intermediate assessment of activities and to the adjustment of the Work plan and budget allocations.
  • The second was in November 2013, in conjunction with the second WG2 Workshop (Galati, Romania). It was primarily dedicated to a final  assessment of the 2nd year of the Action and the approval of the 3rd year Work & Budget Plan.

Core Group meetings (3)

Three (one-day) meetings of the WG Steering Committee were scheduled.

  • The first WGSC meeting was scheduled in February, in conjunction with the last WG1 Workshop held in Porto (Portugal), and mostly concerned the closing of WG1 activities. It was dedicated to finalizing plans for the valorisation and dissemination of WG1 national/regional reports (publications and website) and to finalizing the methodology and organization of the subsequent WG2 Workshop held in June.
  • The second WGSC meeting was scheduled in June, in conjunction with the first WG2 Workshop held in Reykjavik (island). It was dedicated to preparing the next workshop involving the presentation of in-depth case studies.
  • The third WGSC meeting was scheduled in November, in conjunction with the second WG2 workshop held in Galati (Romania). Based on the results of this WG2 workshop, it was dedicated to organizing the prosecution of Task 2 in the 3rd year of Action. 

Workshops and Conferences (2)

Three Workshops were held.

  • The first Workshop, was scheduled in February in Porto (Portugal) and hosted the last WG1 Plenary workshop, where a number of transversal (comparative) syntheses of national/regional report on regulatory trajectories and specific social services, were presented. These transversal readings represented the final output of WG1 and provided the basis for launching the study and comparison of case studies in WG2.
  • The second Workshop, was scheduled in June in Reykjavík (Iceland). It hosted the first WG2 Plenary workshop and involved all concerned Action parties. In this workshop the preliminary surveys of local initiatives and experiences in selected social services by involved parties were presented and compared. A number of ‘pilot’ case studies were also presented. The discussion provided inputs for the improvement of the methodology and the organization of the following workshop on structured in-depth case studies.
  • The third Workshop, was scheduled in November in Galati (Romania). It represent the second WG2 Plenary workshop, involving all Action parties. In this workshop in-depth case studies of local initiatives were presented and compared within selected categories of services. The discussion provided further inputs for the prosecution of WG2 in the 3rd year of Action. 


B) Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

The STSM Committee, appointed at the 1st MC Meeting, issued 3 call(s) during this second year of action and evaluated and assigned grants. Eight STSMs were funded, for a total duration of 17 weeks. Gender and country balance, as well as the involvement of Early Stage Researchers (ESRs) featured prominently among the criteria for the evaluation of applicants. Out of 8 grantees 6 were women and 8 were ESRs. 


C) Pubblications, dissemination, outreach, website

Dissemination was a major dimension of the Action, transversal and built-in, rather than ex-post, and assigned to a specific Task 4/WG4. A major ambition of the Action, as stated in the MoU (Section H), was to be trans-disciplinary, i.e. to bridge scientific and practical knowledge, by involving not only the scientific community, but also local policy makers, service administrations and providers, users and their families. The dissemination strategies and activities were coordinated and monitored by the appointed Dissemination Board (WG4 Leader and Co-leaders, plus Chair and Co-chair). 

As stressed earlier in the context of WG4, this year’s activities included:

  • The further development of the website, with the set up of national/regional pages (2 sub-national pages were realized with 3 tags)
  • The realisation of a sub-page ‘Repository’ of national/regional experiences and initiatives.
  • The establishment of local stakeholders networks ensuring the cross-fertilisation between academic and non-academic knowledge.
  • The valorisation and publication of WG1 output on the website, with open access and a DOI number associated (four WG1 - Working Papers were published in a dedicated section on our official website).

The website

A major dissemination and outreach tool was the Action Website, conceived as the ‘hub’ of the network, with different sections and functions, some for internal communication (‘intranet’) and others for the broader public. It provided info on the Action’s aims, structure and activities, Action news and calendar of events, and a library with the Action methodological, intermediate e final reports, as well as any paper the MC deemed useful to upload. Sections devoted to the local stakeholders networks were also implemented.

The local stakeholders networks and workshops

Throughout the year 5 Local Stakekeholders Workshops were implemented. These 1-day workshops involved 15-25 local stakeholders (policy makers, civil servants, social workers, service providers, service users), plus 1-2 national or international experts, some of which from the Action. They were supported through the L.O.S. instrument, plus the regular travel and subsistence instrument for invited experts.


Output for Year 2

In the 2nd year of Action the following output was produced:

  • Website: national/regional subpages and ‘Repository of case studies’.
  • Local stakeholders workshops. 
  • Final national/regional and focussed services reports (WG1), some of which posted on website (open access, with DOI number), subject to author’s authorisation.
  • Intermediate WG2 papers on in-depth case studies (for internal use only).


Yearly Financial Report 2013

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