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Welfare Reform on the Web (April 2012): Welfare state - overseas

The adoption of a rights-based approach to welfare in India

M. Pawar

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol.28, 2012, p. 35-47

India has adopted a rights-based approach to social welfare to guarantee employment to the rural poor and to protect workers in the informal sector. This study discusses the main features of the National Rural Employment Guarantee Act 2005 and the Unorganised Sector Workers' Social Security Act 2008. Drawing on secondary data analysis, it develops a heuristic taxonomy to analyse and improve welfare policies and their implementation.

The EU and the domestic politics of welfare state reforms: Europa, Europae

P. Graziano, S. Jacquot and B. Palier (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

Based on a systematic comparison of ten national cases, including both old and new member states, representing all families of welfare regimes, this volume explores and specifies the mechanisms through which the EU plays a role in domestic social policy changes. It focuses on where, when and how national actors use the tools and resources offered by the process of European integration to support them in the national welfare reforms they are engaged in. The comprehensive research design and the systematic comparisons provide a unique opportunity to fully grasp the mechanisms of domestic welfare state change within the context of the European Union multilevel political system. This book proposes a new step within the Europeanization and the welfare state literatures. It confirms the idea that Europe matters in a differential way since EU social policy will be selectively used by domestic political actors in accordance with their political preferences. It provides a clear explanation of why no EU-induced social policy change can occur without an overall support offered by key domestic decision-makers.

A family-friendly policy for Hong Kong: lessons from three international experiences

Leung Lai-Ching and Chan Kam-wah

International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, vol.32, 2012, p.82-95

Work-family conflicts have long been a challenge for post-industrial countries, which have responded by developing a range of family-friendly policies. This paper compares the family friendly policies developed in Sweden, the UK and Singapore. Policies in Sweden place emphasis on gender equality to ensure that men and women share responsibility for both work and home. In the UK support for the maintenance of a healthy work-family life balance is minimal and is subservient to market forces. In Singapore, policies are targeted on increasing fertility and on building a cohesive and resilient society where families shoulder most of the welfare burden. This analysis is intended to contribute to the development of family-friendly policies in Hong Kong.

In the spotlight of the crisis: how social policies create, correct, and compensate financial markets

Politics and Society, vol. 40, 2012, p. 1-129

This special issue explores the relationship between social policy and financial markets, which was thrown into sharp relief by the financial crisis of 2007-2009. The research asks how social policies underpin and even create financial markets, specifically mass markets for consumer finance, mortgages and pensions. The authors study how social regulation and subsidisation of financial products aim to establish and expand the reach of financial markets for reasons of social policy, such as promoting equality of access to resources and the shifting of risks onto market parties that are supposed to be better equipped to bear them. They demonstrate how social policies directed at financial markets as well as financial regulations with social policy implications may have contributed to the most severe crisis since the Great Depression.

Is the problem of European citizenship a problem of social citizenship? Social policy, federation and democracy in the EU and the United States

C.E. Schall

Sociological Inquiry, vol.82, 2012, p. 123-144

European nationals fail consistently to identify themselves as citizens of Europe. The 2004 Eurobarometer survey reports that just 10% of citizens described themselves as primarily European citizens. This article posits that a lack of development of social rights at the European level has prevented a sense of common European citizenship from emerging. Research has demonstrated that social policies have the capacity to form identities through both socialisation and persuasion. These include national (or supranational) identities that emerge out of direct relationships between states and citizens. It is argued that a strong relationship has grown between Europeans and their member state due in part to well-developed social welfare provision. This strong attachment may prevent the development of such a relationship at the European level. The US provides a comparison case, where a successful transference of citizenship identity from a lower to a higher level has occurred, partly as a result of the building of national-level social citizenship, at least for those citizens fully included in Federal programmes.

Mass political polarization and attitudes towards education as part of the welfare state in Norway, Sweden and Finland

A. Fladmoe

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.22, 2012, p. 45-62

The education systems in the Nordic countries have always been regarded as part of the welfare state and schools have taught social skills as well as academic subjects. In this article public attitudes to education as part of the welfare state in Norway, Sweden and Finland are explored: the core question is whether attitudes are polarised according to party sympathy. Analysis of survey evidence shows that left-leaning citizens support more focus on social skills and right-leaning citizens support more focus on academic skills.

Migration and social protection: claiming social rights beyond borders

R. Sabates-Wheeler and R. Feldman (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

The growing scale of international migration has generated new questions about the social rights and social protection available to people outside their countries of origin. In particular, this rings true for the hidden extent of South-South migration which represents about two fifths of all global migration. What responsibilities do states have towards non-citizens? What are the implications of states using access to public welfare as a means of immigration control? How can the idea of social protection as a mechanism to meet the basic needs of the poorest, be extended to those who are poor in other countries? This book uses conceptual frameworks, policy analysis and empirical studies of migrants to explore the tensions between migrants' needs for protection, and the practices and policies which may lead to such protection being denied, or in some cases, made available selectively to privileged groups.

Social welfare in North Korea: ethical and ideological conflicts and dilemmas

S.-Y. Kang and T.D. Watts

Journal of Comparative Social Welfare, vol. 28, 2012, p. 17-22

In North Korea, there is a continuing conflict between military needs and social welfare needs. In traditional Marxist-Leninist thinking, the social welfare sector is large, well developed and exists, in theory, to serve citizens in egalitarian ways. This principle is at odds with the perceived need for military security by a regime that sees itself as being under siege.

The Southern European social model: familialism and the high rates of female employment in Portugal

I. Tavora

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.22, 2012, p. 63-76

The family has a key role in the organisation of employment and welfare in Southern Europe. In principle, state intervention only occurs when the ability of family members to protect each other has failed. Consequently state provision of services such as childcare and elder care that would allow women to reconcile paid work and family life remains limited and female employment rates are low, except in Portugal. This paper provides a comparative analysis of female employment and care provision in Spain, Portugal, Greece and Italy, investigating whether recent trends in Portugal are consistent with the familialistic Southern European tradition, or whether they signal a departure from the model. The analysis focuses on four main areas: organisation of employment, social protection, organisation of care and family and gender relations. The analysis reveals that the high rates of female employment in Portugal are associated with lower gender-based labour market segmentation and welfare state support for dual earner families. However, the study also shows that the country still retains familialistic characteristics, which are particularly visible in the organisation of care and in the persistence of traditional gender values.

Welfare states and public opinion: perceptions of healthcare systems, family policy and benefits for the unemployed and poor in Europe

C. Wendt, M. Mischke and M. Pfeifer

Cheltenham: Elgar, 2011

The book comprises an inquiry into three fields of social policy: health policy, family policy, and unemployment benefits and social assistance. Though the analyses stem from research spanning fifteen countries across Europe, the conclusions can be applied to social policy problems in nations worldwide. Combining a detailed analysis of the institutional structure of social policy with the study of public attitudes toward healthcare, family policy, and benefits for the unemployed and poor, this book represents a new stream in public opinion research. The authors demonstrate that the institutional designs of social policies have a great impact on inequalities among social groups, and provide best practices for gaining public support for social policy reform.

The withering of the welfare state: regression

J. Connelly and J. Hayward (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012

The post-war decades of prosperity and increased public expenditure on the comprehensive provision of public welfare services to all citizens went into reverse from the 1970s. The capacity to satisfy the demand for socially protective public services declined, along with the will to impose the redistributive taxation to pay for them. The regression from the high standards achieved is examined in this volume by considering the shifting balance between state and societal intervention in people's lives. The contributors also assess the ways in which governments have adapted their aims and practices to deal politically and administratively with their changed roles. The intrusive impact of national and international market and environmental pressures is analyzed along with the interstate fate of human welfare and the way it competes with military expenditure for increasingly scarce resources.

Working poverty in Europe: a comparative approach

N. Fraser, R. Gutierrez and R. Peña-Casas (editors)

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2011

This is a study of a complex but important concept, working poverty (or in-work poverty), involving individuals both as workers and members of households. It is caused by low pay, but also weak labour force attachment and high needs. The most recently available version of the household survey, EU-SILC, is analyzed to explain factors behind working poverty in different European countries. There has been a growth of jobs in Europe in the last fifteen years, but this has not decreased poverty because of a relative expansion of low quality jobs. Now economic crisis threatens to increase poverty further. But there is quite a diversity of situations within the EU which this book explores. It includes discussion of working poverty in relation to gender, to migration, and policies like tax-credits. Case studies from the UK, France, Spain, Sweden and Poland are included and these countries are given special attention in most of the chapters.

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