Transnational Historical Perspectives on Social Policy
Globalization and Welfare series
Edited by Pauli Kettunen and Klaus Petersen
Chapter 4: International modelling in the making of the Nordic social security systems
4. International modelling in the making of the Nordic social security systems Stein Kuhnle There were social security systems in the world before the ‘Nordic welfare model’1 was conceptualized. International models for social security and welfare existed before the ILO emerged in the interwar period and long before the increasingly social-policy-relevant intergovernmental organizations like the World Bank, the OECD and the EU were even thought of (Rodgers 1998). Ideas matter, concomitant with or independent of class and other interests. Ideas come from somewhere (Blyth 2002). In order to better understand the present institutional characteristics and normative basis of the Nordic welfare states it is necessary go back in history, to study the origins of social security institutions and how historical agents reacted to domestic social and political challenges and how they learnt about and were influenced by external events, actors, and ideas for new public policies and policy solutions. Nations learn social policies from each other. This is true historically, and is perhaps more obvious today in a world with many unprecedented channels and venues for international cooperation and communication between all kinds of governmental and non-governmental agents and representatives. Social policy crosses borders, but how, why, and with what long-term implications? What role do international models play in the making of national social security systems? What role did international model(s) play historically in early social security development in the Nordic countries? And do the Nordic welfare states as a whole at present serve as a model of welfare...
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