Professor Bob Deacon

BSc (University of London); Dip.Social Administration (LSE); MPhil (University of Kent); AcSS

  • Honorary Professor in Global Social Policy and Associate Director, Centre for Comparative and Global Social Policy, University of York
  • Emeritus Professor of International Social Policy, University of Sheffield


It is with great sadness that the Department of Social Policy and Social Work wishes to announce the death of Professor Bob Deacon on Sunday October 1 2017.

Bob Deacon made a significant contribution to the internationalisation of social policy scholarship in the UK and beyond, and a consistent contribution to developing and expanding research, teaching and practice in Social Policy over an academic career spanning four decades.

He began his academic career as an assistant in social research at the LSE in 1966 and was a founding member and editor of Case Con (1970), a publication which contributed to transformative change in social work practice. He was also founding editor of the journal Critical Social Policy (1980), which brought a service user and activist dimension to the academic concerns of social policy as well as creating space for more challenging analyses of welfare development, theory and practice.

From the 1980s, his contribution to Social Policy focused on expanding the comparative and international dimensions of the field. He was a pioneer in the study of communist and post‐communist social policy from the early 1980s, and a member of the editorial board for the newly established Journal of European Social Policy in the 1990s.

Publishing widely throughout his career, Bob Deacon’s most significant contribution to the discipline was in Global Social Policy where his work is recognized as having defined this sub‐field, and opened new possibilities for academic-policy engagement. He initiated the Finnish-funded Globalism and Social Policy Programme (GASPP) in 1997, and through this and his establishment of the practice-focused Global Social Policy Digest, significantly advanced understanding of international policy‐making processes. In 2001 he founded the journal Global Social Policy which he edited until 2005.

In addition to his many research publications in this field - such as Global Social Policy (1997), Global Social Policy and Governance (2007), and Global Social Policy in the Making (2013) - Bob Deacon also maintained a commitment to advancing progressive social policy through establishing and enhancing links between academic and policy-making spheres, cross‐nationally, internationally and globally. He was engaged with high level policy‐making actors in a range of advisory and consultancy roles, within and across numerous national governments and international organisations (UN agencies, WHO, ILO, World Bank), and through his later work on world‐regional social policy, held the UNESCO‐UNUCRIS Chair in Regional Integration from 2011. He was elected to the UK Academy of Social Sciences in 2003 and his work was recognised by his peers in 2013 with a Special Recognition Award from the UK Social Policy Association. 

As well as these achievements in research and policy-making, Bob was also a caring and supportive colleague and teacher, with contagious enthusiasm and curiosity for his subject and the desire to open international horizons for students as much as colleagues. He taught comparative, and latterly Global Social Policy at undergraduate and postgraduate level beyond his official ‘retirement’ in 2010. He also contributed to the development and teaching of a range of distinctive Masters courses in international and global Social Policy both in the UK, Europe and the World University Network.

Bob was a conviction academic whose work not only transformed the outlook of the discipline in the UK, but contributed to real global policy change. His energy and commitment to the advancement of social justice will be greatly missed by both his colleagues and the wider international policy community.

Keynotes and publications


Deacon. B (2013) Global Social Policy in the Making: The foundations of the Social Protection Floor,  Bristol. Policy Press

Deacon, B et al. (eds) (2010) World-Regional Social Policy and Global Governance: new research and Policy Agendas in Africa, Asia, Europe and Latin America, London. Routledge.

Deacon, B and Stubbs, P (eds) (2007) Social Policy and International Interventions in South East Europe, Cheltenham, Edward Elgar.

Deacon, B (2007) Global Social Policy and Governance, London, Sage.

Deacon, B. (1999) Socially Responsible Globalisation: A Challenge for the European Union, Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, Helsinki. 

Deacon, B. with Hulse M. and Stubbs, P. (1997) Global Social Policy; International Organisations and the Future of Welfare, Sage, London. (Also translated and published in Ukrainian in 1999 and in Chinese in 2002 by The Commercial Press, Beijing.)

Deacon, B. et. al. (1992) The New Eastern Europe: Social Policy Past, Present and Future, Sage, London.

Deacon, B. (ed) (1992) Social Policy, Social Justice and Citizenship in Eastern Europe, Avebury, Aldershot

Deacon, B. (1983) Social Policy and Socialism, London, Pluto Press.

Book chapters (2005- present)

Deacon, B (2015) ‘The ILO and Social Protection Policy after the Global Financial Crisis’ in McBride s (eds), The Global Crisis and Social Policy’ Vancouver: UBC Press.

Deacon, B (2015) ‘The ILO and Global Social Governance’, in Kaasch A and Martens K (eds), Actors and Agencies in Global Social Governance , Oxford, OUP

Deacon B and St Claire A. (2015) ‘Goal 1 End poverty in all its forms everywhere’. In ISSC and ICSU Review of Targets for the Sustainable Development Goals: The Science Perspective. Paris ISSC and ICSU,

Deacon, B (2014) ‘Towards a Transformatory Global Social Policy’, in Stubbs and Kaasch (eds), Transformations in Global and Regional Social Policy, Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Deacon, B (2013) ‘Globalization and Social Policy in Developing Countries’, in Surrender R and Walker R (Eds), Social Policy in a Developing World, Cheltenham. Edward Elgar 

Deacon B with Mahon, R (2013) ‘Create Global Social Policy’ in Dutkiewicz, P and Sakwa R (eds) Twenty Ways to Fix the World: Interviews with the World’s Foremost Thinkers, New York, NYUP.

Deacon, B (2012) ‘Shifting Global Social Policy Discourse and Governance in Times of Crisis’. In UNRISD (eds) The Global Crisis and Transformative Social Change . Basingstoke, Palgrave.

Deacon, B (2011) ‘Global Social Policy Responses to the Economic Crisis’, in Farnsworth K and Irving Z. (eds) Social Policy in Challenging Times: Economic Crisis and Welfare Systems, Bristol, Policy Press.

Deacon, B with Yeates, N (2011) Radicalising Social Policy in the 21st Century: A Global Approach, in Walker A. et al. Fighting Poverty, Inequality and Injustice: A Manifesto Inspired by Peter Townsend, Bristol, Policy Press.

Deacon, B (2010) Regional Social Policy from Above: International Organisations and Regional Social Policy, in Deacon et al (eds) (2010) World Regional Social Policy and Global Governance, London, Routledge.

Deacon, B (2008) The Prospects for Global Social Policy, in Leibfried S and Mau S (eds) Welfare States Construction, Deconstruction and Reconstruction. Volume 2 Varieties of Transformations. Cheltenham. Edward Elgar.  

Deacon, B (2008) Global and Regional Social Policy Governance, in Yeates, N ed. Understanding Global Social Policy, Bristol, Policy Press.

Deacon, B (2007) Social Policy and Politics and the International Level, in Hodgson s. and Irving Z (2007) Policy Reconsidered, Bristol, Policy Press.

Deacon, B (2007) “The Politics of Global Social Policy Change”, in Utting P et al Reclaiming Development Agendas: Knowledge, Basingstoke. Palgrave.

Deacon, B (2006) Kuresellesme ve Sosyal Politka: Hakkaniyetli Bir Refaha Tehdit, in Bugra A and Keyder C (eds). Sosyal Politika Yazilaru. Istanbul, Iletisim Yeyinlari.

Deacon, B (2005) ‘Global Social Policy: From Neo-liberalism to social democracy?’, in Cantillon, B. and Marx, I. (Eds) International Cooperation in Social Security, Antwerp, Intersentia. 

Deacon, B (2005) “Allocating a Global Levy”, in Fabian Globalisation Group. Just World. London, Fabian Society and Zed Press.

Deacon, B and Stubbs, P (2005) “The Making of Social Policy in South Eastern Europe: Theories, Methods, Politics”, in Kuhnle, S (ed) Social Policy Developments in South Eastern Europe, Bergen, Rokkanseteret.

Journal Articles (2005-present)

Deacon, B., Nita S. and Lorenzo F. (eds) (2013) Regions without Borders: Regional Governance, Migration and Social Protection in Africa and Europe, Regions and Cohesion: Special Issue. Vol 3 no 3. 1-7

Deacon, B. (2013) ‘The SPF and Global social Governance’, in International Social Security Review, Special Issue, vol. 66 3-4 ; 45-68

Deacon, B. and Nita S. (2013) "Regional Integration and Free Movement across borders: the role of social policy in enabling and preventing access to social entitlements by cross-border movers. Europe and Southern Africa compared", Regions and Cohesion Volume 3 no 1

Deacon, B. and Stubbs, P (2013) ‘Global Social Policy Studies: Conceptual and analytical reflections’, Global Social Policy (13) 1   Deacon, B (2012) ‘From Global Social Floor to National Social Protection Floors: the global politics of the social protection floor’ Policy World, Summer.

Deacon, B. (2011) ‘DFID’s Social Policies: Where do they stand in the context of the UN’s Policy for a Global Social Floor?’, Policy World, Spring.

Deacon, B. and Cohen S. (2011) From the Global Politics of Poverty Alleviation to the Global Politics of Social Solidarity. Global Social Policy 11.2/3

Deacon, B, Philippe De Lombaerde, Maria Cristina Macovei and Sonja Schröder, (2011). ‘Globalisation and the Emerging Regional Governance of Labour Rights’, International Journal of Manpower  32 (3).

Deacon, B (2010) „Globale Soziale Strukturen, Institutionen, Akteure und Diskurse Ein Theorieansatz zur Globalen Sozialpolitikforschung“ Zeitschrift fur Sozialreform, 56 (2)

Deacon, B (2005) “The governance and politics of global social policy”, Social Policy and Society. 4 (4)

Deacon, B (2005) “From ‘safety nets’ back to ‘universal social provision’: Is the global tide turning?” Global Social Policy, 5 (1) pp19-28.

Selected Occasional Papers and Research Reports (2005-present)

Deacon, B et al. (2015) Social Security and Social Protection of Migrants in South Africa and SADC, MiWORC Research Report Number 4, Johannesburg , Wits University,

UNESCO-UNU Chair Policy Brief on "A Regional Tax on the Extraction Industry to Create a Sovereign Fund to Finance a Regional Basic Income Grant’ .2012.  CROP Policy Brief on the Social Protection Floor, 2012

Deacon B, Hoestenberghe K Van, Lombaerde P De, Macovei, C (2008) Regional Integration, Decent Work and Labour and Social Policies in West and Southern Africa, Project Report for ILO-ITC and UNUCRIS, Bruges. UNUCRIS.       

Deacon, B, Ortiz, I. Zelenev, S. (2007) Regional Social Policy, UNDESA Working Papers No. 37, New York, UN.

Deacon, B et al (2005) Copenhagen Social Summit ten years on: the need for effective social policies, nationally, regionally and globally. GASPP Policy Brief Number 6, STAKES, Helsinki.

Selected papers and Keynote speeches

Deacon, B (2014) Contributor to Round Table on ‘No one left behind: Post 2015 Development Agenda, UNESCO/ISSC/ATD joint seminar, UNESCO 14th October. Paris

Deacon, B. (2014) ‘The Making of Global Social Policy at the ILO’. Brown Bag seminar. ILO. February 7th.   Deacon, B (2013) ‘Making Global Social Policy’. Keynote Plenary, Social Policy Association Annual Conference, Sheffield University, July 8th-10th.

Deacon, B (2013) Keynote address at Symposium: Toward a Global Social Protection Floor? Balsillie School of International Affairs, Waterloo, Canada, April 24-26th.

Deacon, B (2013) ‘Regions, Migrations, Social Policy: What are and could be the linkages’, Keynote address at Regional Governance of Migration and Socio-Political Rights: Actors, Institutions, Processes. UNRISD Conference, Geneva, January 14th-15th.

Deacon, B (2012) ‘From the global politics of poverty alleviation to the global politics of social solidarity; the required post MDG agenda’, Paper presented at the CROP seminar on Post 2015 UN Development Agenda. August 23rd-24th Bergen   Deacon, B (2011) ‘Influencing Regional Social Policies from above: Case Study of Sub-Saharan Africa’. Paper delivered at Mapping Agency Conference: Comparing Regionalisms in Sub-Saharan Africa, Berlin. July7th-8th.

Deacon, B (2011) ‘Social Policy, Free Movement, Migration and Regional Integration: diversity between regions and categories of movers’. Paper delivered at the GRESI workshop on migration, UNUCRIS, Bruges, 31st May, Belgium.

Deacon, B (2011) ‘The UN and Non Communicable Disease Prevention’, Respondent at WUN Public Health Conference on ‘Early Life Opportunities for the Prevention of Non-Communicable Disease in Developing Countries’, Shanghai, China 19th-21st May.

Professor Bob Deacon