Chapter 11: Ethnocentrism, the developmental state and East Asian welfare
The origins of this chapter lie in a series of joint critiques of the Western bias in comparative social policy studies (Walker and Wong, 1996, 2004, 2005). We argue that welfare states have been constructed as a capitalist-democratic project and welfare state regimes should not be seen as being unique to Western capitalist societies with a political democracy: ‘[i]f state production of welfare is a universal phenomenon, then the policies and institutions of non-western societies should be included in comparative theories and typologies’ (Walker and Wong, 1996: 88). The debate about the classification or typologies of the welfare state originated from Esping -Andersen’s seminal work The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, in which a welfare regime is understood in terms of the complex socio-political, legal and organizational features that are systematically interwoven in the relationship between the state and the economy as well as between the state and society (Esping-Anderson, 1990: 2). Thus welfare regime types are the result of social settlements among capital, labour and state actors. This postulation of welfare development is essentially society-led, driven by political democracy essentially seeking a truce between capital and labour. However, this is unlikely to be the case for welfare development and welfare regimes in some East Asian countries such as China, Singapore and colonial Hong Kong, which are predominantly state-led.
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