Shannon Dinan analyses social policy in the Member States

Shannon Dinan is an Assistant Professor at Bishop’s University. She is also a member of the Canadian Political Science Association Board of Directors as Student Representative (2019-2022).


The Single European Market is one of the greatest accomplishments of the EU. It has brought economic advancement to the Member States and occupational mobility and opportunity to its citizens. However, this occupational mobility means that there is the necessity for coordinated social and employment policy, which can be incredibly complicated among Member States with various ideological standpoints on the issue. Shannon researches the way that different Member States have responded and behaved within the Single Market in terms of employment and social policy. 


What attracted you to the field of European Studies/ fascinated you about the EU?


My real interest in the European Union began with an internship at the European Social Observatory (OSE) in 2013. I wanted to understand the EU’s social policy governance and how Member States cooperate and learn from each other. With the help of researchers at the OSE, I was able to meet and interview high level bureaucrats at the European Commission. These experiences led me to analyze how the Open Method of Coordination and the European Semester function. They also introduced me to modern scholarship on the comparative welfare state and motivated me to pursue a PhD. 


What is the most important issue to be addressed in your research?


My research is at the intersection of social and labour market policies. I specifically focus on how countries encourage citizens into the labour market using incentives. Comparative welfare state scholars argue that a significant policy development in the 1990s and 2000s is to use access to employment instead of income assistance as a form of social inclusion and welfare. This development is usually referred to as activation. My PhD research analyzed youth activation policies after the Great Recession in three European countries. This includes an analysis of how the EU influenced policymaking in these countries. I found that the cases, Denmark, France and the United Kingdom, are not converging towards the same activation policies and the EU’s influence here is limited. These member states are, however, making significant changes to their youth policy configurations. This leads them to elaborate policy mixes in which governments of various partisan orientations increasingly demand that youth participate in the labour market and provide different instruments to accomplish this objective. My current research agenda analyzes employers’ role in skills development policy and investigates how they can act as actors having a responsibility in creating policy instead of consumers of policies as they have in the past. 


Shannon holds a doctorate in political science from the University of Montreal. Her research interests include comparative public policy and the welfare state. She is notably the recipient of the Doctoral Fellowship from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the CORIM Prize from the Montréal Council on Foreign Relations. As part of her doctoral research, she was a student fellow at the Centre d’études européennes et de politique comparée at Science Po Paris, the Department of Business and Politics and the Copenhagen Business School and the Policy Network in London.

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