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 5: Christian Foundations of the Welfare State: Strong Cultural Values in Comparative Perspective

Michael Opielka

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

Extract

Michael Opielka The cultural analysis of the welfare state up to now has concentrated mainly on political values. It is highly elaborated in the theory of welfare regimes developed by Gøsta Esping-Andersen (1990). There, the value dimension of social policy is conceptualized on the classical left–right axis of social democracy (or socialism), liberalism, and conservatism, perpetuating the French Revolution’s well-known value-triad of equality, freedom, and fraternity/solidarity. These ‘basic principles’ of welfare-state policies come combined with structural and institutional dimensions, for example, the role of the welfare state versus the market, or gender roles and the family. However, a twofold, religiously-based reasoning about the process of modernization has accompanied the seeming limitation to the study of political values since the founding years of social policy. Therefore the questions followed in this chapter are: do Christian foundations of the welfare state exist; are, in a globally comparative perspective, other religious traditions relevant for social policies; and, how important is their influence, besides being political value-orientations? The two controversial perspectives on the influence of religion on the modern welfare state are the starting point for my analysis. First, on a more concrete, structural level, advocates of a ‘natural’ order have argued that the welfare state has contributed to the dissolution of the family by promoting individual rights and labor market integration of women: ‘The family is the original and natural institution which provides basic provision’ (Koslowski, 1997: 365). Religion, in this perspective, has been viewed as the true haven...

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