Table of Contents

Culture and Welfare State

Culture and Welfare State

Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective

Edited by Wim van Oorschot, Michael Opiekla and Birgit Pfau-Effinger

Culture and Welfare State provides comparative studies on the interplay between cultural factors and welfare policies. Starting with an analysis of the historical and cultural foundations of Western European welfare states, reflected in the competing ideologies of liberalism, conservatism and socialism, the book goes on to compare the Western European welfare model to those in North America, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Comprehensive and engaging, this volume examines not only the relationships between cultural change and welfare restructuring, taking empirical evidence from policy reforms in contemporary Europe, but also the popular legitimacy of welfare, focusing particularly on the underlying values, beliefs and attitudes of people in European countries.

Chapter 3: Social Democratic Values in the European Welfare States

Steinar Stjernø

Subjects: social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


Steinar Stjernø Key contributions to research on the welfare state direct the reader’s attention to the hegemonic and alternative sets of values that are reflected in the political cultures of differing social and political alliances that created different welfare regimes. Esping-Andersen (1990: 30) and Baldwin (1990: 33, 50–94) link the universal and redistributive Scandinavian welfare states to the alliance between the working class and farmers, and to risk-sharing and solidarity. Kersbergen (1995: 62–96) analyses how social Catholicism and its values influenced Christian democratic parties and their conceptions of the welfare state in different nations (also Huber and Stephens, 2001: 144–62). This chapter seeks to depict the establishment and development of one aspect of the political culture of social democracy – its basic values – and the challenge of deducing political actions from those values. To identify these values, it is necessary to contrast them briefly with the values of another type of party that has been a protagonist in the development of the welfare state in Europe – Christian democracy. It goes without saying that to analyse the relationship between the declared values of a political party and its political practice would be quite another task. APPROACH: FROM BASIC VALUES TO POLICY INSTRUMENTS Several authors have drawn attention to the values of socialism and social democracy. Marquand (1993: 53) points to an ethic that emphasized cooperation, community and solidarity. Thomson (2000: 9) suggests that what ‘unites social democrats is their value system of equality...

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