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School of Social and Political Science: Staff profiles


Elke Heins

Elke Heins
Dr Elke Heins
Senior Lecturer in Social Policy
2.06 Chrystal Macmillan Building 15a George Square Edinburgh UK EH8 9LD
+44 (0) 131 650 4049
Research Interests
Comparative social policy, Labour Market Policy, unemployment insurance, fuzzy set/QCA, welfare reform, trade unions, Social Determinants of Health, Health policy, Politics of health, Europeanization, Third Sector, European social policy, social investment, well-being

Guidance and Feedback Hours

  • Wednesdays 9:15 - 10:45 and by email appointment.

Biographical Statement

I am a graduate of the University of Mannheim and have a PhD in Political and Social Science from the European University Institute in Florence. 

My principal research interests are comparative welfare state policies, in particular labour market and unemployment policy as well as well as the politics of welfare and wellbeing.

Selection of Publications

Journal articles

"'Best of both worlds'? A comparison of third sector providers in health care and welfare-to-work markets in Britain", Social Policy & Administration 50(1): 39-58, 2016 (with H. Bennett).

"A new era of European integration? Governance of Labour market and social policy since the sovereign debt crisis", Comparative European Politics 13(1): 8-28, 2015 (with C. de la Porte).

"The role of wage bargaining partners in public sector reform: The case of primary care contracts", in European Journal of Industrial Relations 17(4): 381-396, 2011 (with R. Parry).

"Review of the Evidence of Third Sector Performance and Its Relevance for a Universal Comprehensive Health System", in Social Policy and Society 9 (4): 515-526, 2010 (with D. Price, A.M. Pollock, E. Miller, J. Mohan and J. Shaoul).

"Politiques sociales et devolution des pouvoirs : l'exemple ecossais" Informations sociales 3/2010 (n° 159): 38-45, 2010.

"The commercialization of GP services: a survey of APMS contracts and new GP ownership", in BJGP 59 (567), 2009 (with A.M. Pollock and D. Price).

"Social Policy in Scotland since Devolution", in Social Policy and Society 8(3), 419-430, 2009.

"Flexicurity and Welfare reform", in Socio-Economic Review 7 (2), 305-331, 2009 (with J. Clasen).

"Voluntary unemployment insurance and trade union membership - investigating the connections in Denmark and Sweden", in Journal of Social Policy 37(3), 433-451, 2008 (with J. Clasen).

"The market in primary care", in BMJ 335 (7618), 475-477, 8 September 2007 (with A.M. Pollock, D. Price, E. Miller and G. Watt).


Social Policy Review 31. Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2019, Bristol: Policy Press, 2019 (co-edited with J. Rees and C. Needham).

Social Policy Review 30. Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2018, Bristol: Policy Press, 2018 (co-edited with C. Needham and J. Rees).

Social Policy Review 29. Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2017, Bristol: Policy Press, 2017 (co-edited with J. Hudson and C. Needham).

The Sovereign Debt Crisis, the EU and Welfare State Reform, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016 (co-edited with C. de la Porte).

Book chapters

"Retrenchment, conditionality and flexibility - UK labour market policies in the era of austerity", Chapter 10 in S. Theodoropoulou (ed), Labour Market Policies in the Era of Pervasive Austerity, Bristol: Policy Press, 2018, pp.225-251 (with H. Bennett).

"The Anglo-Saxon welfare states: still Europe’s outlier – or trendsetter?", Chapter 14 in P. Kennett and N. Lendvai-Bainton (eds), Handbook of European Social Policy, Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2017, pp. 393-421 (with F. Dukelow).

"The aftermath of the Eurozone crisis: towards fiscal federalism?", Chapter 8 in D. Dinan, N. Nugent and W. E. Paterson (eds), The European Union in Crisis, London: Palgrave, 2017, pp. 149-166 (with C. de la Porte).

“Depleted European social models following the crisis: Towards a brighter future?”, in C. de la Porte and E. Heins (eds), The Sovereign Debt Crisis, the EU and Welfare State Reform, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2016, pp. 207-221 (with C. de la Porte).

"Welfare and well-being – inextricably linked", pp. 13-15 in L. Foster, A. Brunton, C. Deeming and T. Haux (eds), In Defence of Welfare 2, Bristol: Policy Press, 2015 (with C. Deeming).

"Game change in EU Social Policy: towards more European integration", Chapter 10 in M.J. Rodrigues and E. Xiarchogiannopoulou (eds), The Eurozone Crisis and the Transformation of EU Governance. Internal and External Implications, Farnham: Ashgate, 2014, pp. 157-170 (with C. de la Porte).

"Doctors in the driving seat? Reforms in NHS primary care and commissioning", Chapter Three in G. Ramia, K. Farnsworth and Z. Irving (eds), Social Policy Review 25. Analysis and Debate in Social Policy, 2013, Bristol: Policy Press, 2013, pp. 47-65.

Other publications and blogs

Trade unions and social protection - why the strength of collective organisation matters for social security, SPA 50th anniversary blog series, 11 June 2018.

The European Pillar of Social Rights – What Prospects after Brexit?, European Futures blog, 22 May 2018.

Post-Crisis Policymaking in Europe: The Politics of Expertise, European Futures blog, 26 January 2016 (with H. Pautz).

Government and ‘independent expertise’: think tanks represent a blind spot for critical analysis, LSE British Politics and Policy blog, 6 January 2016 (with H. Pautz).

Social Europe since the Crisis, European Futures blog, 26 August 2015 (with C. de la Porte).

Poverty and Inequality as measured by the Scottish National Performance Framework, GLADS - Good Lives and Decent Societies blog, 10 October 2014 .

Good lives and Decent Societies (GLADS) - Final report, Scottish Universities Insight Institute, 2014  (with M.-A. Viatte and I. Suojanen).

"Flexicurity - a state-of-the-art review", Working Papers on the Reconciliation of Work and Welfare in Europe 01/2009, Edinburgh: RECWOWE Publication, Dissemination and Dialogue Centre (with J. Clasen).


Semester 1 

European Social Policy  - PG (course convener) 

Semester 2

Analytical Perspectives in Social Policy  - Honours level (contributing lecturer)

Comparative Analysis in Social and Public Policy - PG (contributing lecturer)

Politics of the Welfare State - UG (course convener)

Social Determinants of Health - PG (contributing lecturer)

Online Teaching

Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) on Social Wellbeing, delivered via FutureLearn.

first course run: 26 September - 16 October 2016. Please visit FutureLearn for further course runs.

PhD students

Cristina Asenjo, 'Empowerment and Wellbeing: A Comparative Study of Asset and Rights Based Approaches to Local Development in the UK' (ESRC funded).

Fabio Battaglia, 'To GDP or not to GDP? Identifying the barriers to uptake and application of measures of progress and well-being in Scotland and Italy'.

Nikos Kanellopoulos, ‘The Discursive Construction Of Higher Education Reform During The Crisis (2011-2015): The Case Of Greece’ (funded by the Onassis Foundation).

Blanca Kao, 'How, and to what extent, are health implications taken into account in the decision-making processes within the Scottish local government? A Multiple-Case Study of Scottish Local Authorities'.

Alexander Mesarovich, 'European Politics in the Yugoslaw Laboratory'.

Knowledge Exchange

Parliamentary Fellow, Beltane Public Engagement Network (January-June 2016)

Good Lives And Decent Societies (GLADS) (PI): Scottish Universities Insight Institute funded series of knowledge exchange events designed to inform the work of policy makers and third sector practitioners regarding indicators for the measurement of well-being (together with Jan Eichhorn, John Frank and Neil Thin at the University of Edinburgh and a range of external partners). Details can be found here

Topics interested in supervising

I would welcome inquiries about supervision of research on a wide range of topics in social policy, particularly from a comparative and European perspective, including unemployment and labour market policy, health policy, welfare and well-being, the politics of welfare reform, the impact of the EU and international organisations on social policy, and the involvement of trade unions, third sector or commercial sector organisations in welfare policy delivery.

If you are interested in being supervised by Elke Heins, please see the links below for more information:

PhD in International Public Health Policy; PhD in Social Policy; MSc (R) Social Policy