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

Explaining the underdevelopment of 'social Europe': a critical realization

D.J. Bailey

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 18, 2008, p. 232-245

The underdevelopment of 'social Europe' has so far been explained through reference to a number of obstacles confronting advocates of market correcting policy at the supranational level. This article argues that existing accounts fail to adequately integrate these obstacles, often resulting in an overly optimistic analysis of the prospects for future realisation of social Europe. Using a critical realist method, the author proposes a stratified model of the obstacles to social Europe, in which institutional obstacles to positive integration are themselves the emergent outcome of underlying nationally oriented and disunited popular political relations, which have themselves been generated by capitalist and representative-democratic EU-wide social relations. Any attempt to surmount the obstacles to social Europe must seek to transform the institutional, political, and social relations that currently constitute contemporary European reality.

Feminist theory and welfare

A.M. Smith (editor)

Feminist Theory, vol. 9, 2008, p. 131-245

This special issue examines redistributive social policy from analytic and normative perspectives. In the context of globalisation, the feminisation of poverty remains profound and is even deepening in many sites across developed countries. Women still face gendered occupational segregation in the workplace, a gendered wage gap, over-representation among low-wage and part-time workers, the double burden of unpaid care work and wage earning, and inadequate work supports such as childcare and parental leave. These pressures are being born by women when, under the influence of neoliberalism, governments are scaling back welfare provision and promoting individual responsibility, self-sufficiency and corporate profit-making.

From structural adjustment to social adjustment: a gendered analysis of conditional cash transfer programmes in Mexico and Nicaragua

S. Bradshaw

Global Social Policy, vol. 8, 2008, p. 188-207

This article examines two conditional cash transfer programmes deemed highly effective by their authors and supporters. The Oportunidades programme in Mexico has been promoted by many as a blueprint for other interventions and has been used as a model for the World Bank backed Red de Proteccion Social in Nicaragua. Both have produced some impressive results in terms of school enrolment and child and maternal health and have made some impressive claims about their empowering effect on women. Closer examination of claims around women's empowerment, however, suggest a need for caution. In the first place, women are targeted with resources and then made responsible for changing the problematic male behaviour that produces low levels of household welfare. Secondly, women included in the programme are constructed as 'good' mothers whose behaviour consolidates the family unit. This constructs those whose behaviour is not in keeping with the norms that the programme wishes to promote are constructed as lesser or deviant women.

Restructuring the welfare state: reforms in long-term care in Western European countries

E. Pavolini and C. Ranci

Journal of European Social Policy, vol. 18, 2008, p. 246-259

Faced with the problems associated with an ageing society, many Western European governments have reformed their long-term care services over the past 15 years in order to both meet growing demand and contain costs. Although embedded within particular national traditions, these new policies share some characteristics:

  1. a tendency to combine monetary transfers to families with provision of in-kind services
  2. establishment of a new social care market based on competition
  3. empowerment of users by increasing their purchasing power
  4. the introduction of funding measures intended to foster family care-giving.

This article presents the most significant reforms to long-term care systems recently introduced in six countries: France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Sweden and the UK. The reforms have brought about a general expansion of provision of long-term care services, a better recognition of dependency as a social risk, and a tendency to guarantee some universal rights to care to dependent citizens. On the other hand, provision of long-term care services must still comply with financial constraints.

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