Professor Rana Jawad

Professor Rana Jawad

Department of Social Policy, Sociology and Criminology
Professor of Global Social Policy

Contact details

Muirhead Tower
University of Birmingham
B15 2TT

Rana Jawad specialises in the social policies and welfare systems of the Middle East and North Africa region, focusing on broad questions about institutional and political change, programme design and the impact of these on poverty and inequality. She is especially interested in the policy and political dynamics (including policy transfer issues) among international actors and the donor community, government officials and civil society organisations. Areas of particular policy interest are social care, social insurance and social assistance. Methodologically, she has expertise in Case Study research design, Grounded Theory, Fuzzy Sets and Policy Lab (as a form of action research to influence policy).

Rana has complementary research expertise in the role of religion on social policy with empirical focus on the UK context and the MENA region. Here, she has particular focus on how religion plays an explicit and implicit role in the formulation of social policies ranging from the direct provision of social welfare services (such as schools, hospitals, foodbanks and cash assistance), to normative, discursive and institutional influences (such as perceptions of charity, moral judgements on poverty as a form of deviance or deservingness, the key role of the family in society). 

More recently, she has begun to focus on conflict, peace and security issues. To this end, she applies her knowledge of and commitment to progressive and equitable social policy to better understand how inclusive and equitable peace may be achieved. This has initiated critical comparative research into the influence of foreign policy and social policy on peace and security outcomes, with particular focus on the MENA region.   

She is co-founder and convener of the MENA social policy network which is the only international grouping of academics, civil society and policy-making bodies of its kind. The network carries out a range of research and knowledge sharing activities including hosting a database of experts and an international bi-annual conference.  



Fellow of the Higher Education Academy, UK (2015) 

Postgraduate Certificate in Higher Education (PGCHE), University of Kent (2015) 

PhD in Social Policy, University of Nottingham, UK (2005) 

MA (Econ) Development Policy and Administration, University of Manchester, UK (2000)


Rana joined the University of Birmingham as Professor of Global Social Policy in October 2023 having previously held academic posts at the Universities of Bath, Kent and Warwick. She is a long-standing member of the UK Social Policy Association having served on the executive committee in the mid-2000s. Throughout her career, she has combined empirical research with theoretical analysis to help further the field of social policy globally and in the MENA region.


08 34488 Global Policy Networks and Institutions (Semester 2)

Postgraduate supervision

Currently, Rana is an external supervisor (at the University of Bath) on PhD and professional doctorate theses studying the following topics: Knowledge Transfer Programmes and South-South Cooperation between South Korea and Algeria; Obesity Policy in Qatar; Maternity Policies in Qatar and the GCC states; Parenting Styles in Qatar.

She has supervised a range of PhD topics for example on social welfare and civil society in Iraq, social care for older people in China and the employment nationalisation policies in Gulf Countries.

She is happy to receive PhD applications in the following areas: global social policy theory; social policies and welfare systems in the MENA region; the role of social policy in relation to conflict prevention and peace; the role of religion in social policy; all dimensions of social protection discourse and delivery; comparative case study research design.


Research interests 

  • Global social policy (standards, policy transfer and politics)
  • Social policy in low- and middle-income countries: theory, typology and regime/cluster analysis
  • Middle East social policies and social politics
  • Religion and faith-based welfare
  • Social assistance
  • Social insurance
  • Conflict prevention and peace
  • International donor agencies
  • Case study research and the role of anomalies 

Key questions that motivate Rana in her research are: 

  • How are social policies designed in the MENA region, how do they change over time and how do policy actors influence this process? 
  • To what extent do the above policies reduce poverty, inequality or lead to other forms of well-being not accounted for in current theoretical perspectives? 
  • What is the profile of social assistance programmes in the region? How significant are they in the restructuring of social policies in the MENA region?
  • How do MENA sub-regions differ in relation to their social policy discourses and social assistance programmes?

Current projects 

  • 2020-2025       (PI) GCRF-AHRC Network Plus Main Grant Social welfare and inclusive Peace in the MENA region  Grant Ref: AH/T008067/1 
  • 2021-2024      (PI) Ford Foundation (Egypt) Policy Labs and Civic Engagement in the MENA region Grant number 135630

Other activities

Rana is co-founder and convener of the MENA social policy network 

She undertakes a range of professional and external roles:   

  • Membership of the editorial advisory boards of several journals including International Social Security Review, International and Comparative Social Welfare and Global Social Policy
  • Membership of the FBA research working groups
  • Advisory roles for a range of international projects includingacting as an advisory board member to the Research Chair on Forced Migration at the American University of Beirut (Lebanon);  ConsortiumAdvisory Member to the Arab Hub for Social Protection from Covid, Arab Reform Initiative
  • Reviewer for projects and research for a range international body including the ESRC (UK), European Institute of the Mediterranean and the Research Council of Norway, Lead author on major international policy reports such as: Arab Watch Report Thematic Paper: The right to health through a social protection lens (ANND, Lebanon); Well-being, social policy and development  in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA) – State of Play and challenges for Improvement in IEMed. Mediterranean Yearbook 2022, European Institute of the Mediterranean; Social Inequalities in the Arab Region Post-COVID-19: The Road to Structural Transformation: Social Development Report (4), The Policy Press, Bristol (UK) and UN-ESCWA, (Lebanon) (UN-ESCWA); Social Protection Policies in the Arab Region, Research paper, UNDP regional office for the Arab States (Lebanon)


Selected Publications


(Under contract) A Research Agenda for Religion and Social Policy, Research Agendas Book Series Edward Elgar, Northampton - lead co-editor with Prof Daniel Béland, McGill University (Canada) and Prof Emmanuele Pavolini, Macerata University (Italy) 

Jawad, R., Jones, N. and Messkoub, M. (2019) Social Policy in the Middle East and North Africa Region: The new social protection paradigm and universal coverage, Edward Elgar, Northampton 

Jawad, R. (2012) Religion and Faith-based Welfare: From Wellbeing to Ways of Being, The Policy Press, Bristol 

Jawad, R. (2009) Social Welfare and Religion in the Middle East: A Lebanese Perspective, The Policy Press, Bristol

Journal articles and book chapters 

Jawad, R., Plagerson, S and Jaskolski, T. (forthcoming in World Development special issue) ‘Social protection and positive peace:  a new perspective from the Middle East and North Africa Region (MENA)’ 

Jawad, R. (in press) ‘Social policy and social innovation in the Middle East and North Africa region (MENA): understanding contemporary challenges in historical context and identifying an action-research agenda’ in Handbook on Social Innovation and Social Policy, Sinclair, S. and Baglioni, S. (eds.), Edward Elgar, Northampton 

Merouani, W. and Jawad, R. (2022) ‘Political attitudes and participation among young Arab workers: a comparison of formal and informal workers in five Arab countries’, Social Science, 11: 503 

Jawad, R., Walton, O., Merouani, W. (2021) ‘Service delivery and state legitimacy in conflict-affected Arab countries: exploring the linkages from a social policy perspective’ (in special issue on Conflict and state fragility in MEN A, edited by Kivimaki, T. and Jawad, R.) (in Social Science - special issue) Soc. Sci. 2021, 10(12), 481; 

Jawad, R. (60%) Béland, D. (20%), Pavolini, E. (20%) (2021) Review Article: 'The people' and their social rights: What Is Distinctive About the Populism-Religion-Social Policy Nexus?, in Social Policy and Society, Themed section on Religion and Social Policy, (Guest editors: Jawad, R. Beland, D. and Pavolini, E.)

Jawad (2020) ‘Social Protection and the Pandemic in the MENA Region’ in Current History, December 2020  

Jawad, R. (2019) ‘A new era for social protection discourse in LMICs? A Perspective from the MENA region’, in World Development, Vol. 123

View all publications in research portal