NOK 1 billion for social research

The Research Council is launching the largest-ever research program in the social sciences in Norway. Almost NOK 1 billion will be allocated over the next 10 years to acquire more knowledge about welfare, work and migration.

“The VAM program gives an enormous boost to Norwegian social research,” says Anne Kjersti Fahlvik, Executive Director of the Division for Strategic Priorities at the Research Council. In her view, it is an advantage that the program encompasses a broad range of thematic areas and combines many different subject areas and societal sectors. “The program will strengthen each of the various research communities and make it possible to take a cohesive view of previously distinct research areas,” asserts Ms Fahlvik.

From three programmes to one

Until now, research in these key social areas has been divided among three different research programs: the Program on Welfare Research (VELFERD), the Program on Working Life Research (ARBEIDSLIV) and the Research Program on International Migration and Ethnic Relations (IMER). The consolidation will provide new resources to the research field and stimulate innovative thinking.

The VAM work program was recently approved by the Research Council’s governing bodies. The VAM program is an “action-oriented” initiative, meaning that the research activity is intended to produce knowledge for use in the formulation of policy and the administration of public welfare schemes.

Sustainability of the welfare society

“A fundamental challenge for Norway in the future is the economic, social and normative sustainability of the welfare society,” says Ms Fahlvik. “An increasingly globalized economy, political sphere, working life and business sector will lead to greater social and cultural differences. Major changes in the composition of the population and an oil-dependent economy are other key factors that will play a role. These trends as a whole pose substantial challenges to society, and the VAM program is intended to shed light on these.”

The relationship between the majority population and minority groups will be a central focus of research. “As one example, the researchers will analyse how groups and individuals are included in and excluded from various arenas and levels of society,” Ms Fahlvik explains.

“The work programme identifies a number of thematic priority areas, including aging, the ramifications of increased affluence, international migration, the family and society, value creation and the organisation of working life, and support for and the organisation and administration of the welfare society.”

Large call for proposals with a February deadline

The VAM program receives most of its funding from the Ministry of Labour and Social Inclusion and the Ministry of Children and Equality. Four other ministries, as well as the Norwegian Agency for Development Cooperation (Norad) and the Confederation of Norwegian Enterprise (NHO), also provide funding.

After a “jump start” with two small funding announcements in 2009, the VAM program is planning its first large-scale call for proposals for Researcher Projects with a budgetary framework of NOK 200 million. The application deadline is February 17, 2010.

Source: Research Council of Norway

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