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Edited by Patricia Kennett
Chapter 11: Social policy regimes in the developing world
My aim in this chapter is to reconceptualize the welfare regime paradigm developed within Northern social policy studies to understand the nature and diversity of social policies in the South. Midgley (Chapter 10) has rightly criticized the relevance of the welfare regime paradigm to social policy dilemmas in much of the world, so this approach may seem perverse and will need defending. The intention is certainly not simply to ‘apply’ it to the South, but to radically recast it. My basic reason is that it offers the way out of a classic dilemma in understanding social policy and social development across the world. By developing a variegated middle-range model it avoids both over-generalization and over-specificity. A regime approach can recognize, on the one hand, the commonalities across the countries and regions of the South, while on the other hand identifying systematic qualitatively distinct patterns within the South. It can also provide a bridge between thinking about social policy in the North and the South, without imposing Northern frameworks and solutions on the rest of the world. In adopting a regime approach we are placing ourselves within the historical-institutional school of social research. This attempts to steer a middle way between teleological or functionalist approaches (both modernization and Marxist) on the one hand, and post-modern approaches emphasizing uniqueness and diversity on the other.
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