New Welfare States in East Asia

New Welfare States in East Asia

Global Challenges and Restructuring

Edited by Gyu-Jin Hwang

The fast changing economic climate is creating substantial pressure for welfare state restructuring worldwide. Yet the discussion regarding challenges faced and the responses required has been confined to the ‘standard welfare states’ in the West. This book examines whether these challenges also apply to the countries in the East, whether these countries have generated different responses to their Western counterparts, and whether they have undergone a process of regime transformation while responding to these pressures.

Chapter 3: Analysing the Productive Dimensions of Welfare: Looking Beyond East Asia

John Hudson and Stefan Kühner

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


John Hudson and Stefan Kühner Introduction Following the publication of Esping-Andersen’s (1990) classic The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, the comparative social policy literature has been dominated by the welfare state modelling debate. One of the thorniest questions here has been how best to classify the East Asian states. Indeed, an early criticism of Esping-Andersen’s work was that it had misunderstood – and therefore misclassified – Japan, the only East Asian nation included in his typology (Esping-Andersen, 1997). While, as Esping-Andersen (1999) acknowledges, all classifications rely on simplified ideal types that cannot fully capture the complex reality of actual welfare regimes, several theorists – most notably Holliday (Holliday, 2000, 2005; Holliday and Wilding, 2003; Kwon and Holliday, 2007) – have argued that social policy regimes in East Asia can be seen as distinct from the three welfare regime types articulated by Esping-Andersen because of their productive – rather than protective – intent.1 This is a bold claim that presents a direct challenge to dominant approaches in the welfare modelling business. Those wishing to test the claim are presented with some significant challenges, however. Firstly, there are conceptual challenges. Following Esping-Andersen’s lead, the overwhelming emphasis of the welfare regimes debate has been on how nations may be classified into distinct worlds of welfare largely on the basis of the varying strength of protective social rights (see Hudson and Kühner, 2009). Indeed, Esping-Andersen’s original work (1990) focused only on traditional social protections and even his subsequent revisions (Esping-Andersen, 1999) did not add an analysis of education...

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