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 12: European Scope-of-Government Beliefs: The Impact of Individual, Regional and National Characteristics

John Gelissen

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

Extract

John Gelissen INTRODUCTION AND RESEARCH QUESTIONS Research on popular scope-of-government beliefs constitutes a major aspect of the study of the role of values and culture within welfare states. This field of research seeks to describe and explain people’s values, beliefs and preferences regarding the types and degrees of state intervention in matters of citizens’ social and economic security. Earlier studies in this field have paid considerable attention to individual- and country-level determinants of such beliefs. We will discuss their main findings later. However, research that additionally includes regional differences within nation states as potential explanations of welfare state beliefs is lacking thus far. The inclusion of regional characteristics can be important for several reasons. In the first place, Stewart (2003) shows that there exist important regional disparities with respect to poverty and inequality, unemployment, education and health. Countries which spend much on social protection include regions which lag behind in their socio-economic development, and there are also relatively prosperous regions in countries which have relatively low social expenditures. Presumably, such structural regional disparities contribute to attitude and preference formation; that is, people hold certain beliefs about welfare state policies because of the immediate surrounding socio-economic conditions. Second, regions differ considerably in terms of cultural characteristics. As Beugelsdijk and van Schaik (2003) point out, regional identity is a key element in the construction of regions as social and political spaces and systems of action. One measure of regional specificity is provided by the existence of different values,...

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