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How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public

How Welfare States Shape the Democratic Public

Policy Feedback, Participation, Voting, and Attitudes

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen

Staffan Kumlin and Isabelle Stadelmann-Steffen bring together political scientists and sociologists from different and frequently separated research communities to examine policy feedback in European welfare states. In doing so, they offer a rich menu of different methodological approaches. The book demonstrates how long-term policy legacies and short-term policy change affect the public, but also shows that such processes are contingent on individual characteristics and political context.

Chapter 7: The electoral consequences of reforming a Bismarckian welfare

Christoph Arndt

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


Reforming, recalibrating and retrenching mature welfare states have been never-ending stories in Western societies and the welfare state literature since the two oil crises. Much ink has been spilled on the general electoral risk of reforming mature welfare states (e.g. Pierson 1994, 1996; Boeri et al. 2001), the importance of institutions (e.g. Bonoli 2001; Starke 2008) or the role of policy-makers, parties and party systems in welfare state reform(e.g. Ross 2000; Kitschelt 2001; Green-Pedersen 2002). A particular focus in this literature has been on Bismarckian welfare states, often characterized as ëfrozen continental landscapesí unable to enact structural reform despite the view that this welfare type was the most vulnerable regime during the process of post-industrialization (Esping-Andersen 1996, p. 27; Pierson 2001; Palier and Martin 2007). Often writing from a historical institutionalist perspective, scholars argued that Bismarckian welfare states exhibit special features and institutions that make them the most resistant regime to change (Bonoli and Palier 2007; Clegg 2007; Palier and Martin 2007; Palier 2010).

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