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 5: From charity to social justice: religion and the European welfare state traditions

Kees van Kersbergen

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


Kees van Kersbergen For mainstream welfare state literature, particularly the power resources approach, the impact of religion or of religiously inspired social and political movements on the welfare state has always remained a puzzle. The social democratic model of explanation, which – as I will argue below – is still prominent in spite of major recent advances in theory and empirical analysis, proposes a linear relationship between the power of the social democratic labour movement and welfare capitalism. The development of the welfare state is essentially seen as the social democratization of capitalism, with other variants or types explained in terms of an incomplete or distorted shift towards the universal and egalitarian prototypical order. Within the social democratic paradigm, it is really hard to understand why male (industrial) workers (or their wives!) would define their social, cultural and political identity in any terms other than their class position. Theoretically, the model still is heavily shaped by its Marxist heritage and, for that reason, it firmly (but wrongly) ascribes political identity to socio-economic location. In other words, the fundamental assumption of the social democratic model of explanation is that the economic and social position of wage-earners in capitalist societies naturally propels them to become social democrats. The next assumption is that because workers have an interest in taming capitalism, they are the main, if not the only, promoters of the welfare state, whose architecture is therefore essentially of a social democratic quality. However, if one relaxes these (usually hidden) suppositions, an analytical torch...

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