A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy
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A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy

Edited by Patricia Kennett

The current context of social policy is one in which many of the old certainties of the past have been eroded. The predominantly inward-looking, domestic preoccupation of social policy has made way for a more integrated, international and outward approach to analysis which looks beyond the boundaries of the state. It is in this context that this Handbook brings together the work of key commentators in the field of comparative analysis in order to provide comprehensive coverage of contemporary debates and issues in cross-national social policy research.
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Chapter 7: The Ethnocentric Construction of the Welfare State

Alan Walker and Chack-kie Wong


Alan Walker and Chack-kie Wong This chapter argues that welfare state regimes have been constructed specifically as capitalist-democratic projects and this has the effect of excluding societies which do not have either one or both of these particular economic and political systems. If a traditional social administration approach is adopted, a similar result occurs when a ‘welfare state’ is defined narrowly in terms of direct state provision. Introduction In recent years, there has been increased interest in the welfare systems of East Asian societies (Aspalter, 2001; Chan, 1996; Goodman and Peng, 1996; Goodman, White and Kwon, 1998; Jacobs, 1998; Jones, 1993; Lin, 1999; McLaughlin, 1993). However, whether the welfare systems of these societies should be classified as welfare states remains a controversial issue. Some writers (McLaughlin, 1993; Goodman, White and Kwon, 1998; Jacobs, 1998) avoid the issue altogether by not directly applying the label ‘welfare state’ to the East Asian welfare systems under study. For example, in the comparative social policy book Comparing Welfare States: Britain in International Context, McLaughlin (1993:105) uses the term ‘welfare regime’ to classify Hong Kong. In another book on East Asian welfare systems, the term ‘Welfare Model’ is preferred to that of ‘welfare state’ (Goodman, White and Kwon, 1998). Nevertheless, there are exceptions where the description ‘welfare state’ is applied to East Asian societies (Aspalter, 2001; Chan; 1996; Rose and Shiratori, 1986). These recent exceptions apart, in the mainstream comparative social policy literature, definitions, theories and classifications of both...

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