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 11: Social policy history after the transnational turn

Christoph Conrad

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


Christoph Conrad In many political debates, the welfare state appears as perhaps the last bulwark of the nation-state. One cannot help but notice however that, in ‘real life’, the attention paid to border-crossing, international and global processes which interact with nationally construed social problems and their regulation has become more and more pronounced. The growth of supranational coordination in the European Union, the emergence of ‘new welfare states’ around the globe and the presence of widely shared structural problems like unemployment, migration or population ageing may suffice as examples. Although the agendasetting in the academic field does not necessarily follow the priorities of the public or political actors directly, it seems obvious that various strands of social scientific research have equally put more emphasis on transnational dimensions of their fields of study, with social policies among them. Migration studies stand out as one of the most prolific fields in this respect (Faist 2000; Pries 2008a; Vertovec 2009). This chapter puts forward the idea that historical studies of the welfare state can only gain from this widening of their horizon and the transcending of the national frame. It first sketches relevant approaches and definitions and sets up three signposts to avoid unproductive detours and unnecessary rediscoveries. It then surveys a series of vectors of transnationality1 in the history of social policies. Underneath lies the question of how to understand the relationship of these dimensions, with the persistence of the nation-state as the decisive actor of welfare politics and policies, both in...

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