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Welfare Reform on the Web (March 2005): Welfare State - Overseas

CULTURE AND WELFARE STATE POLICIES: REFLECTIONS ON A COMPLEX INTERACTION

B. Pfau-Effinger

Journal of Social Policy, vol.34, 2005, p.3-20

Article reflects on the relationship between culture and welfare state policies and considers how it might be analysed in a comparative perspective. Suggests analysing the relationship using the theoretical approach of "welfare arrangements". According to this approach, welfare state policies are embedded in the societal context of the welfare culture (the relevant values and ideas in a given society about the welfare state), the institutional system which comprises the institutions of the welfare state, and other central institutions, social structures and social actors.

THE ECONOMICS OF RIGHTS, COOPERATION AND WELFARE

R. Sugden

Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2005

The author sets out to answer a question that lies at the heart of economics and politics: how can individuals coordinate their behaviour in the absence of central law-enforcing agencies? Using the tools of evolutionary game theory, the author shows how self-enforcing conventions of property and reciprocity can evolve spontaneously out of the interaction of self-interested individuals. He goes on to argue that such conventions become the norm, even if they arbitrarily favour some people relative to others, and even if they do not maximize social welfare. In arguing that such norms are genuinely moral, the author challenges prevailing views about social justice.

EMPLOYMENT-ANCHORED SOCIAL POLICY, GENDER EQUALITY AND THE OPEN METHOD OF COORDINATION IN THE EUROPEAN UNION.

J.S. O'Connor

European Societies, vol.7, 2005, p.27-52

The employment and social inclusion frameworks being adopted in the European Union identify increasing the employment rate and improving the quality of jobs as key policy objectives. These objectives can only be achieved by increasing the employment rate of women and removing barriers to their participation in the labour market. Author asks if increasing the female employment rate in the context of a labour market characterised by a substantial proportion of low quality jobs is likely to challenge or reinforce gender inequality in employment. She also asks if the open method of coordination (OMC) adopted in the late 1990s as a mechanism for the governance of EU social policy can engineer the changes at member state level that can give substance to the laudable aspirations regarding employment and inclusion articulated at EU level.

PROMOTING BUSINESS-CENTRED WELFARE: INTERNATIONAL AND EUROPEAN BUSINESS PERSPECTIVES ON SOCIAL POLICY

K. Farnsworth

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.15, 2005, p.65-80

It is possible to summarise the position of international business on social policy as follows:

  • increases in spending can only be afforded through increased productivity, investment and profitability of business;
  • public services should be opened up to more competition;
  • they should be made to emulate and adopt the discipline of the private sector.

Contemporary capitalism requires radical transformations in welfare systems so that they fit better with more competitive trading environments. Expansion of state provision is an option closed off by globalisation.

THE SOCIAL CAPITAL OF EUROPEAN WELFARE STATES: THE CROWDING OUT HYPOTHESIS REVISITED

W. van Oorschot and W. Arts

Journal of European Social Policy, vol.15, 2005, p.5-26

Critics of the welfare state argue that it "crowds out" informal caring relations and social support networks as well as familial, communal and occupational systems of self-help. To test this theory, authors carried out a cross-national analysis of the empirical relations between various forms of social capital and the characteristics of 23 contemporary European welfare states, using data from the 1999/2000 European Values Study survey. They conclude that the crowding out hypothesis is not supported by the data.

WELFARE STATE CHANGE: TOWARDS A THIRD WAY?

J. Lewis and R. Surender

Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004

The politics of the Third Way reflects an attempt by many contemporary social democracies to forge a new political settlement fitted to the conditions of a modern society and new global economy, but one which also retains the goals of social cohesion and egalitarianism. It seeks to differentiate itself as distinct from the political ideologies of the New Right and Old Left. This book provides a comprehensive and critical analysis of the Third Way social policy and policy processes in the welfare systems of industrialized economies, and examines the extent to which Third Way ideology and institutional structures converge or vary in different national settings. It examines substantive areas of public policy in a broad comparative context of key trends and debates. By assessing the extent to which the post-war social contract in developed welfare states is being renegotiated, the text contributes to a better understanding of the current restructuring and modernization of the State. Finally the book explores the implications of the new politics of welfare for theorizing inequality, social justice, and the future of welfare.

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