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About us Faculty of Law Organization Departments Constitutional Law, Administrative Law and Public Administration Research

Social domain

The term ‘social domain’ encompasses the full range of government efforts in the field of work, participation and self-reliance, care and youth, based on, among others, the Youth Act (Jeugdwet), the Social Support Act (Wmo), the Participation Act (Participatiewet) and the Work and Income according to Labour Capacity Act (WIA).

The department has been actively investigating numerous questions that revolve around these issues. One primary question is how best to organize the government's tasks. What are the advantages and disadvantages of centralised tasks at a national level, such as through large implementing organizations like the Social Security Bank (SVB) and the Employee Insurance Agency (UWV)? Conversely, what are the merits and drawbacks of decentralizing tasks to the local level, as demonstrated by the 2015 decentralization operation, which granted municipalities additional responsibilities in areas such as youth care, participation, and self-reliance?

Another critical inquiry is determining the nature of the government's role in the social domain. Social security measures contribute to safeguarding the underprivileged and bridging the gap between underprivileged and privileged groups. We explore the consequences of various options. For example, should the current social security system be replaced by a solidarity-based system that encompasses all segments of society, with broad-ranging impact, minimal means testing, and support for integration (see the universal welfare state project)?

A third question of significance pertains to the role of fundamental social rights in within the social domain. What is the role and meaning of fundamental social rights and how are these rights enforced?

Our research on the social domain also sheds light on various related research areas, including enforcement and dispute resolution. When examining enforcement, it is noted the tightening of sanctions in the social domain over the past 15 years has led to the characterization of the Netherlands as a repressive welfare state, often exhibiting excesses. Additionally, the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) into enforcement processes raises concerns regarding the shifting of responsibilities, the potential for (undetected) discrimination, and the diminishing transparency of the enforcement process. This raises the question of how enforcement can be effectively and fairly organized while respecting the rights of the citizens involved.

Regarding dispute resolution, noteworthy attempts have been made to streamline decision-making on claims for support under the Social Support Act by reducing legal involvement. Consequently, the impact of these attempts on access to justice becomes a significant concern worth investigating.

Last modified:02 November 2023 1.51 p.m.
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