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


The 4th and final year of the Action, was divided in two periods:

1) the first period went from 2014-12-02 to 2015-09-30;

2) the second period (i.e. the ‘extension’ the Action obtained from the COST Association) went from 2015-10-01 to 2016-04-30


In these two periods activities concerned:

▪    Task 2 – Conclusion of the comparison of concrete experiences and practices (case studies) in the domain of care services (WG2)

▪    Task 3 – Comparative evaluation of practices, oriented to providing policy inputs (WG3)

▪    Task 4 – Continuation and conclusion of dissemination and capacity building (WG4)

Each task was coordinated by the respective WG leaders and co-leaders, whereas the overall scientific and methodological coordination was ensured by the WG Steering Committee. 


(Source: Memorandum of Understanding)

Task 2/WG2 – Conclusion of the 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, which stretched over a period of two years and more. Its aim was to identify, evaluate and compare current experiences and practices – i.e. concrete case studies – in the domain of care services, in order to assess the effects of the restructuring of social services – and the recent financial crisis – from 5 perspectives: a) cost efficiency in relation to quality, choice, and satisfaction; b) democratic governance; c) social and territorial cohesion; d) the working conditions and training of social workers; e) gender and equal opportunities (MoU pages 17 and 23). It should be stressed here that, in the course of the first year of Task 2 it became clear that the financial crisis was having a very strong negative impact on the provision of care services in many European countries – especially Southern ones – and was overcoming – sometimes precipitating – previous restructuring trends. Therefore, the Action took on board the impact of the crisis as a major topic.

 Task 2 was carried out by all WG2 participants and was coordinated by Marisol Garcia and a number of Thematic Group Coordinators. Specific social services/themes had been selected during the first year of the Task, based on the preferences of participants – a) care for older people and people with disabilities, b) children and childcare, c) social assistance services, d) housing, e) social services and the crisis – and a total of about 45 case studies were proposed by participants for in-depth analysis and comparison (see Repository of case studies on the Action website at: http://www.cost-is1102- ).

In order to optimise the comparability of case studies, a template was designed to frame the presentations of the different initiatives and experiences.

The case studies carried out in the 2nd and 3rd year of the Action provided the basis for Task3/WG3 – Comparative assessment of good practices for policy recommendations, that was carried out in this 4th and final year of the Action.

Task 3/WG3 - Comparative evaluation of observed practices (case studies), oriented to providing policy inputs

A comparative assessment of practices with a view to provide policy inputs for a European social policy platform was carried out. As stated in the MoU (p. 24), the objective of Task 3 was to sort out from the evidence gathered and compared in the previous task, both good and poor practices, in order to identify the most enabling institutional frameworks and production arrangements and their potential for transferability. In particular, the practices enhancing efficiency, quality and user satisfaction, democratic participation, social and territorial cohesion, good working conditions, and equal opportunities were singled out. Contextually, the hypothesis that multi-scalar and multi-actor governance in social services works best in contexts with robust regulatory frameworks that ensure universal access, ‘minimum welfare standards’ for all, and basic labour protection were tested.

Task 3 was carried out by all WG3 participants and was coordinated by Anneli Anttonen, together with a number of WG3 leaders, one for each sub-group/theme. Two specific sections were selected during Task 3, based on the preferences of participants: 1) Social policy domain (20 case studies); 2) Transversal policy themes (6 case studies) (posted, for internal use only, in the ‘Library’ - ‘Organisation & Methodology’ on the Action website at: http://www.cost-is1102- ). 

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 both within the academic community and with the external audience of stakeholders, including policy makers, local administrators and social workers, service providers and service users (p. 17 of MoU).

The first dissemination tool of the Action was its website. During the 4th year both the ‘Repository of case studies’ and the ‘Organisation & Methodology’ sections of the ‘Library’ were further developed. In the first case, the list (with open access) and the synopses (with reserved access) of case studies were updated; in the second case, a new tag 'WG3. Policy Brief Synopsis' was created, with reserved access, to socialise the WG3 production.

A second dissemination strategy involved the socialization of intermediate or final scientific reports on the Action website, through the publication of Action Working Papers with open access and a DOI (Digital Object Identifyer) number. In the course of the 4th year a number of WG1 national/regional reports, as well as a number of WG2 case studies and one WG3 report were made available to the general public in such form.

A third dissemination and capacity building strategy was the set up of local stakeholders networks – i.e. networks of local ‘actors involved in the planning, production and delivery of social services, as well as users’ (MoU p. 30) – and the organization of local stakeholders workshops (LSW). Five such LSWs were organized during the 3rd year and were very successful. Four more were implemented during the 4th year, involving 20-35 local actors and 1-2 national/foreign actors/experts/observers from the Action, during which the Action output were shared and discussed with local actors.

A fourth dissemination strategy put forward in the MoU was the publication of selected syntheses and cases in academic journals and/or edited book(s). WG leaders and coordinators of thematic groups had started a discussion on this during the 2nd and 3rd years, but more energies were devoted to this strategy during the 4th year and a number of publication projects took shape, including two journal special issues, one on care for older people in different institutional contexts and one on housing as a social need: 1) Journal of Social Service Research, Vol. 42, No. 2, 2016; 2) Journal of Housing and the Built Environment, Vol. 31, No. 3, 2016.

In conclusion, the knowledge gathered in the course of Task 3 actively contributed to two of the three inter-related goals of Action IS1102, as stressed in the MoU: 

  • scientific advance, (through the sharing and comparison of the different local responses to the restructuring of social services);
  • 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.


(Source: Approved Work & Budget Plan for the first period of the 4th year; approved Work & Budget Plan for the second period of the 4th year)

A) Meetings

Management Committee meetings (2)

Two (half-day) MC meeting were scheduled in Year 4.

The first was in June 2015, in conjunction with the second WG3 Workshop (Lund, Sweden). It was primarily dedicated to an intermediate assessment of activities and to the adjustment of the Work & Budget Plan allocations.

The second was in October 2015, in conjunction with the third WG3 Workshop and the Final Action Conference (Reggio Calabria, Italy). It was primarily dedicated to a final assessment of Task3, as well as the approval of the Work & Budget plan for Task 4 and the Final Action Publication scheduled for 2017.

Core meetings (6) 

Six core meetings were carried out, four involving the WG Steering Committee and two involving the Editors of the Final Action Publication.

The first WGSC meeting was held in February, in conjunction with the first WG3 Workshop in Paris (France). It mostly concerned the organization of the subsequent WG3 workshop in Lund, the dissemination and publication strategies, the coordination of the WG3 groups and the election of the WG3 leader.

The second WGSC meeting was held in June, in conjunction with the second WG3 Workshop in Lund (Sweden). It was dedicated to assessing the case studies and preparing the next and last WG3 workshop and the Final Action Conference in Reggio Calabria, where ‘transversal readings’ and/or ‘thematic syntheses’ of finished case studies were presented, as well as further dissemination and publication strategies.

The third WGSC meeting was held in October, in conjunction with the Final Action Conference and the WG3 workshop held in Reggio Calabria (Italy). Based on the results of the WG3 workshop, it was dedicated to organizing the completion of Task 4 to be carried out during the extension of the 4th year.

The fourth WGSC meeting was held in December, in Linz (Austria), and was dedicated to the organisation of the Final Action Publication. It involved all concerned WG3 leaders and a number of authors contributing to the FAP.

The fifth WGSC meeting was held in March, in Tampere (Finland). It involved only the three editors of the Final Action Publication.

The sixth and last WGSC meeting was scheduled in April in Reggio Calabria (Italy). It involved only the three editors of the Final Action Publication.

Workshops and WG meetings (3)

Three (2 to 3-day) Action workshops were held in the 4th year.

In February a first WG3 meeting was held in Paris, in which the first proposals for a Final Action Publication was presented and discussed. It involved all concerned WG3 leaders and contributors. The plenary meeting was coupled with parallel WG3 thematic group discussion meetings. During this WG meeting Anneli Anttonen was elected coordinator of Task 3.

In June, a first WG3 workshop was held in Lund, to present first drafts of chapters for the Final Action Publication. It involved all concerned Action participants. It was followed by parallel WG3 thematic group discussion meetings (contributors to chapters of the FAP).

In October, a final WG3 workshop was held in Reggio Calabria, involving all contributors to the FAP. In this workshop second drafts of the FAP chapters were presented and discussed. 

Final Action Conference

The Final Action Conference was held in Reggio Calabria – the grant holder and coordinating institution -- on 29-30 October 2015. In this conference, open to all local stakeholders, the main results of the Action in the form of chapters for the forthcoming Final Action Publication (to be published by Edward Elgar in 2017) were presented. Ten external experts in the field were invited as discussants, to provide comments to the chapters. 

B) Short Term Scientific Missions (STSMs)

The STSM Committee issued 2 calls and assigned 8 grants, for a total duration of 25 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 6 were ESRs.

C) Publications, dissemination, outreach, website

Dissemination was a major dimension of the Action – transversal and built-in, rather than carried out ex-post. It was therefore entrusted 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 Stefania Barilla’, together with 3 Co-leaders, plus Chair and Vice-chair).

As stressed earlier, this year’s activities included:

The further posting of Working papers on the Action website, with open access and a

DOI number and – in some case – an ISBN number (3 WG1 Working papers, 3 WG2 Working Papers and 1 WG3 Working Paper).

The further development of local stakeholders networks and the organisation of Local Stakeholders Workshops to ensure the cross-fertilisation between academic and non-academic knowledge.

Plans for the structured valorisation of the Action output, through the finalisation of academic publications.

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 open to 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. The section devoted to the Action Working Papers was enlarged, with the addition of two more tags (WG1 – Transversal readings series and WG3 – Policy series). Seven new Working Papers were posted with open access: 3 WG1 Working papers, 3 WG2 Working Papers and 1 WG3 Working paper with associated DOI and ISBN codes. 

The local stakeholder workshops

Throughout the 4th year, 4 (1-day) local stakeholders workshops (LSWs) were held in selected places, based on partners’ applications (according to the internal rules developed and approved by the MC in the 3rd year). These workshops (see section on ‘Dissemination and capacity building’ above) involved up to 35 local stakeholders (policy makers, civil servants, social workers, service providers, service users) and up to 3 long distance (national or international) experts or observers from the Action. In what concerns local people, they were supported through the L.O.S. instrument, whereas in what concerns the invited external – national or foreign – experts or Action observers, these were funded through the regular travel and subsistence instrument.


In the 4th year of Action the following output was produced:

- Further enrichment of the Website contents.

- Local stakeholders networks and workshops.

- Completion of WG2 case studies, some of which (2) were posted on the website as Working Papers.

- Academic publications: 2 journals special issues; 1 forthcoming Final Action Publication.


Yearly Financial Report 2015 (1st period of 4th year)

Yearly Financial Report 2016 (2nd period of 4th year)

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