Swiss Social Policy Association (SVSP)

The Swiss Social Policy Association is a Swiss non-governmental organization dating back to the bourgeois, liberal social reform of the 19th century. It promotes dialogue between the spheres of politics, administration and science.

The Swiss Social Policy Association (SVSP) was set up in 1926 after the merger of the ‘Swiss Association for the Promotion of International Labor Protection’ (1900) and the ‘Swiss Association for Social Insurance’ (1910). Both predecessor associations emanated from the bourgeois, liberal social reform of the 19th century and were collaborating with its international partner organisations, the ‘International Association for Labor Protection Legislation’ and the ‘International Workers’ Insurance Congress’.

The mission of these organisations was to facilitate the improvement of the social and economic position of the working class (the social question). The socio-political reforms were also to be coordinated internationally in order to prevent progressive states from receiving economic advantages over states with deficient levels of workers’ protection.

The SVSP continued to press ahead with the work performed by its predecessors and pursued its goal stated in its 1928 statutes, ‘to introduce the ideas of progressive social policy to further groups and participate in promoting the same both nationally and internationally’. It infused its social policy expertise into political debates by means of publications, dossiers, events and official petitions.

During its formative years, the association was mainly financed by federal subsidies. It sought collaboration between the International Labor Organization (ILO) as well as federal authorities and particularly the Federal Department of Economic Affairs. At the end of 1926, the SVSP encompassed 347 members, comprising 51 political authorities, 86 associations and 210 individuals. Gustav Keller, Zurich representative in the Council of States, was the association's first president.

During the interwar period, the SVSP served as a platform for dialogue between employers and employees on the future shape of social security. Topics discussed included the introduction of a maternity insurance and family protection, the organization of old age and survivors’ insurance (AHV), the vocational education of young people, the protection of home workers (Heimarbeit) and the expansion of industrial workers' protection to trade and commerce. Following the Second World War, the SVSP was committed to renewing legislation on collective labor agreements and provided a forum of negotiation between the Confederation and social partners regarding the expansion of social insurance.

Over recent decades, the work performed by the SVSP has been increasingly focused on the organization of conferences and the publication of scientific studies. It has thus become a social science think-tank.

Literatur / Bibliographie / Bibliografia / References: Dietschi Urs (1950), 50 Jahre Schweizerische Vereinigung für Sozialpolitik (discorso), Soletta; Carigiet Erwin, Mäder Ueli, Bonvin Jean-Michel (ed.) (2003), Wörterbuch der Sozialpolitik, Zurigo; Latzel Günther (2001), Die Schweizerische Vereinigung für Sozialpolitik, in E. Carigiet, J.-P. Fragnière, (ed.), Hat das Drei-Säulen-Konzept eine Zukunft? Le concept des trois piliers a-t-il un avenir? 101-103, Losanna.