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Welfare Reform on the Web (May 2008): Welfare state - overseas

Activation and local welfare in Italy: trends and issues

L. Bifulco, M. Bricocoli and R. Monteleone

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 42, 2008, p. 143-159

Many Italian regions have been acting as policy laboratories, developing and testing many different approaches to social welfare according to their political leanings. On the one hand this is leading to a fragmented policy landscape, and to growing inequalities in the Italian welfare system. On the other hand, it opens up opportunities for experimentation with institutional and organisational structures at the regional level, creating a variety of practices for policy analysis. This article describes a pilot programme which is aiming at the promotion and implementation of innovative practices in health and social care services in Friuli-Venezia-Giulia, a region in which there is a significant orientation towards enhancing social citizenship and enforcing the central role of the public sector.

The American and the European social dream: the competition of welfare regimes

J. Weidenholzer and C. Aspalter

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 24, 2008, p. 3-11

This paper begins with a critical examination of the American social model, which it argues leads to widespread social inequality, unrest and reliance on imprisonment as a means of social control. The authors next examine the European social model, which in fact represents an amalgamation of the Scandinavian, UK and Continental systems. The authors conclude that the implementation of a comprehensive and effective welfare state is essential for the survival of societies and the continuation of their social development. They argue that a model based on the Scandinavian social democratic welfare regime is best suited to solving the main social problems of our time, while also contributing to economic efficiency through the development of human and societal capital, and creating social integration and harmony.

Are the poor socially integrated? The link between poverty and social support in different welfare regimes

P. Böhnke

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 18, 2008, p. 133-150

Poor people depend on assistance and have a particular need for social support. This article explores whether poor people are just as well integrated into social networks as the better-off or whether being materially disadvantaged increases the likelihood of social isolation. It examines the extent to which the social integration of the poor is influenced by the general standard of living in a country, by strategies to combat poverty, and by the norms of equity and solidarity that are specific to different welfare state regimes. Risk of social isolation is reduced for those living in large, shared households, but is increased in those countries where poverty is rare and the poor are stigmatised. Religiosity and strong family values espoused by a society also increase the social integration of the poor.

Citizenship and the welfare state: a critique of David Miller's theory of nationality

N. Hibbert

Canadian Journal of Political Science, vol. 41, 2008, p. 169-186

For much of the post-war period of welfare state formation, T.H. Marshall's idea of shared entitlement to universal social rights formed the theoretical foundations of social democratic reforms. According to this view, shared rights function as the primary source of social unity among citizens with diverse private interests. This article examines David Miller's nationality thesis and critique of rights-based citizenship as the motivational foundation of the welfare state.

Comparison of inequality reduction and income security in Canada from a mixed neo-liberal welfare regime: micro-data simulations and policy implications

N.N. Habibov and L. Fan

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 24, 2008, p. 33-47

This study provides an evaluation of the impact of changes in the welfare regime on the inequality reduction effectiveness of income security programmes in Canada. At the end of the 1980s Canada had created a unique mixed welfare regime based on national standards of income security, the federal-provincial agreement to equally share costs of social programmes through the Canada Assistance Plan, a generous unemployment assistance programme, and a wide range of universal programmes. However by the end of the 1990s Canada had moved to a neo-liberal regime through reforms to old age pensions, unemployment insurance, family benefits and social assistance which have generally tightened eligibility criteria, extended means-testing and reduced benefit levels. The empirical evidence presented demonstrates that the changes significantly weakened the overall effectiveness of income security programmes in Canada. The neoliberal regime divides the population into deserving families with children participating in the labour market and undeserving unemployed, sick and disabled people. Programmes aimed at 'deserving' groups demonstrated an increase in effectiveness, while the effectiveness of those aimed at the 'undeserving' declined.

The European welfare state: golden achievements, silver prospects

M. Ferrera

West European Politics, vol. 31, 2008, p. 82-107

Over the past 30 years, European welfare states have moved from a golden age of expansion to a silver age of permanent austerity. This is due to the impact of external factors such as economic globalisation and European integration, and internal changes such as the shift from an industrial to a service-based economy, population ageing, and the breakdown of the traditional family.

The institutionalization of social welfare: a study of medicalizing management

M. Holmqvist

Abingdon: Routledge, 2008

Today most countries rely on formally organized welfare programmes - in some cases to the extent that they are labelled 'welfare states'. These programmes, which have been constructed over the last decades, make up a larger national and international system of good intentions. Overall, it appears impossible to imagine 'civilized society' without a comprehensive organizational system of social welfare. Social welfare has become a 'holy cow' in many societies; an institutionalized aspect of modern life. But how does the institutionalization of social welfare occur through the concrete activities it enacts; and why does the institutionalization of social welfare appear to be so particularly successful in relation to other institutionalizing phenomena? These are central problems for any sociological analysis of contemporary society's organization and are the main focus of attention of this book. This study explores how a social welfare organization becomes a self-evident phenomenon by 'medicalizing' its environment: a way of 'solving' social problems by viewing and treating them as medical problems. It generates new understandings of how institutionalization of organizations comes about and contributes insight to the area of social welfare policies.

The Italian case: from employment regulation to welfare reforms?

M.S. Lodovici and R. Semenza

Social Policy and Administration, vol. 42, 2008, p. 160-176

Italy is characterised by a Mediterranean welfare state and household model, based on job security, relatively generous welfare benefits for full-time permanent workers in medium/large industrial firms, and on family support to 'secondary workers' (normally women and young people). At the same time, temporary and part-time work has been growing thanks to labour market deregulation over the past decade, which has improved the employment entry prospects of women, young people and immigrants. However these temporary and part-time jobs are insecure and workers have little access to social protection schemes available to full-time staff, such as maternity leave, health and unemployment insurance. Thus lack of reform in the welfare system penalises these workers in comparison to full-time permanent staff.

Micro-level determinants of poverty reduction in Sri Lanka: a multivariate approach

I. de Silva

International Journal of Social Economics, vol. 35, 2008, p. 140-158

This paper aims to construct a poverty profile for Sri Lanka, and examine the micro-level determinants and correlates of poverty, based on the latest Sri Lanka Integrated Survey commissioned by the World Bank. Estimation results show that the education of the household head, being salary employed, and being engaged in business have a significant positive effect on the standard of living. The probability of being poor increases with household size, household head being female, living in a rural area, and being a casual worker. These findings suggest that poverty could be tackled by increasing school enrolment and educational attainment, by effective family planning programmes to reduce family size, and by introducing interventions specifically targeted on vulnerable groups such as the elderly, rural and female-headed households.

Organizational innovation in the Swedish welfare state

A. Meeuwisse

Critical Social Policy, vol. 28, 2008, p. 187-210

This article deals with how some client-led voluntary sector organisations in Sweden strive to evade the phenomenon of stigmatising social categorisation, and the consequent creation of durable inequality. They try to achieve this by emphasizing the importance of self-organisation, self-help and self-governance and by introducing innovative models of mutual support. Proceeding from Charles Tilly's notion that organisational innovation may be one way to reduce durable inequality, the author uses Basta Co-operative, a non-profit, voluntary organisation which aims to assist people with drug problems, as an empirical example of a conscious effort to change power relations, borders, and social categories. The Basta Co-operative is an example of a new approach to both the handling of social problems and the organisation of drug rehabilitation in the Swedish welfare state. It operates on the border between civil society, the market and the state and represents an attempt to introduce user-controlled enterprise as a form of rehabilitation.

Progress or regress of the millennium development goals: South Asia perspective

G.M. Mathbor and P.A. Ferdinand

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 24, 2008, p. 49-64

This paper examines the progress of eight countries in South Asia towards achieving millennium development goal 1, the eradication of extreme poverty and hunger. The multidimensional aspects of poverty, including social, political, environmental, economic and religious factors, are considered. Each country is also examined for factors affecting poverty such as topography, population, economy, access to water, adequate nutrition and sanitation, and disaster impacts.

Social change through integrated social and economic development in South Africa: a social welfare perspective

A. Lombard

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 24, 2008, p. 23-32

In post-Apartheid South Africa the divide between rich and poor keeps growing. The government is committed to promoting both rapid economic growth and social development through policies such as the Accelerated and Shared Growth Initiative. However it delegates responsibility for achieving integrated social and economic development within a neoliberal macroeonomic framework to its 'social partners'. Social work, as one of partners in social change, is well placed to take up a role as facilitator of social reform in the new democracy. This article explores the relationship between developmental social welfare services, social security and the Expanded Public Works Programme within the context of an integrated socio-economic development plan for reducing actual poverty on the one hand and for empowering people to escape poverty on the other.

Whither EU social policy? An account and assessment of developments in the Lisbon social inclusion process

M. Daly

Social Policy Journal, vol. 37, 2008, p. 1-19

This article examines recent EU social policy, following the course of the Lisbon strategy since it got underway in 2000. Focusing on the social inclusion process, the aim is to identify development over time, to review progress critically and to offer some explanation for events. Analysis is centred on an interrogation of the social policy model and the cognitive aspects of the process, especially as they are to be seen in the production of national policy plans and responses to these on the part of various EU actors. It is concluded that, while social exclusion has provided an innovative focus within an EU context, the process as a whole is timid and its key elements are weak. The article goes on to identify limitations in terms of design, rationale and the place of the social inclusion open method of coordination in the revised Lisbon Strategy.

Worlds of welfare services and transfers

C. Jensen

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 18, 2008, p. 151-162

The basic purpose of this article is to redress the income transfer bias of much of the research literature on categorisation of welfare regimes. The author investigates whether welfare service provision might constitute a second dimension around which welfare regimes cluster. The main conclusion is that this dimension exists and is highly important because one of the main welfare regime types, the social democratic, is mainly distinguished by generous spending on social care services.

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