The New Context of Welfare: State of the Art Paper for the FPV Project: Welfare Reform and the Management of Societal Change.

Taylor-Gooby, Peter and Daguerre, Anne (2004) The New Context of Welfare: State of the Art Paper for the FPV Project: Welfare Reform and the Management of Societal Change. Project report. European Comission, Luxemburg (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided)

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The purpose of this paper is to provide a brief review of comparative research on welfare reform in Europe and to justify the approach taken in the WRAMSOC project. BACKGROUND: REVIEW OF RELEVANT COMPARATIVE RESEARCH Three questions are of central importance in comparative welfare state studies: what is welfare in a capitalist society? How do you study it? and how do you understand welfare state change? - object, method and process. The first two questions received most attention during the early development of the area of study, for the simple reason that welfare states seemed to be developing on a smooth trajectory of growth. In recent years the obvious challenges to welfare states have generated interest in understanding change, and focused attention more on the third - what are the factors causing welfare states to change and how do they operate?. The post-war trajectory of welfare state studies started out with simpler approaches to both object and method that steadily grew more sophisticated, aided by improvements in the quality and availability of data. Welfare was defined initially in terms of state spending on defined services or ‘welfare effort’(Wilensky and Lebeaux, 1958). Over time this notion broadened to include output and outcome measures in terms of recipients of services and benefits and impact on issues such as inequality or labour market participation. The information used initially relied on official data on spending, but later expanded to include a range of measures of economic, political and social activity (growth rates, participation of business, unions and other groups in politics, impact on family and household structure). A wider range of methods including more sophisticated statistical techniques and, later, qualitative approaches from political science and sociology were used. One outcome of growing complexity was that researchers began to move away from unidimensional approaches to understanding welfare systems and to realise that politics (both party politics and ‘power resources’), institutional structure, different varieties of capitalism and differences in social structure make a difference to the operation of welfare systems. The problem that now arises is that so many disparate issues have become relevant to the understanding of welfare policies that research is extremely difficult to conduct successfully.

Item Type: Monograph (Project report)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Social Policy
Depositing User: Peter Taylor-Gooby
Date Deposited: 25 Sep 2008 10:20
Last Modified: 28 Apr 2015 13:50
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