Beyond Welfare State Models

Beyond Welfare State Models

Transnational Historical Perspectives on Social Policy

Globalization and Welfare series

Edited by Pauli Kettunen and Klaus Petersen

Welfare state models have for decades been the gold standard of welfare state research. Beyond Welfare State Models escapes the straitjacket of conventional welfare state models and challenges the existing literature in two ways. Firstly the contributors argue that the standard typologies have omitted important aspects of welfare state development. Secondly, the work develops and underlines the importance of a more fluid transnational conceptualisation. As this book shows, welfare states are not created in national isolation but are heavily influenced by transnational economic, political and cultural interdependencies. The authors illustrate these important points of criticism with their studies on the transnational history of social policy, religion and the welfare state, Nordic cooperation within the fields of social policy and marriage law, and the transnational contexts of national family policies.

Chapter 2: The transnational construction of national challenges: the ambiguous Nordic model of welfare and competitiveness

Pauli Kettunen

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


Pauli Kettunen THE CRITIQUE OF NATIONAL GAZE In debates on globalization, the concern for ‘our’ competitiveness plays a crucial role, and it is still mostly the national entities that ‘we’ refers to. The same is true of the vivid reflections on different ‘models’; the concept is associated with nationally organized forms of social life even in the cases when ‘model’ is provided with a transnational attribute like ‘Nordic’. Indeed, defining globalization as a national challenge has been a widely taken-for-granted way of dealing with this transformation. In the current use of the concept of a ‘model’ an interesting ambiguity appears. ‘Models’ such as ‘the Nordic model’ may mean a structure that has become threatened by new challenges associated with economic globalization, European integration, immigration or an ageing society. However, the concept of a model may also refer to different modes of responding to these challenges, especially the challenges of global economic competition. In both cases, globalization is dealt with as a national challenge, yet the ambiguity of the concept of a model implies an important question concerning the changing role of the nation-state. In this chapter I discuss this change by focusing mainly on ‘the Nordic model’. How is the making of a globally competitive national ‘us’ in the Nordic countries related to the older notions of a ‘Nordic society’ and a ‘Nordic welfare state’? Answering this question is possible only if at the same time one examines the preconditions, consequences and limits of the nation-state-centred approach to globalization. This...

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