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 13: Social Policy Regimes in the Developing World

Ian Gough


Ian Gough Introduction This chapter starts from the absence bemoaned by James Midgley in the previous chapter, but addresses it using a methodological approach which he dismisses. The continuing absence of scholarly debate on social policy in development contexts is as remarkable as it is regrettable. Social policy studies have continued to develop an institutionalist framework reflecting a particularistic Western perspective. Of course, development studies have filled the gap and made notable contributions, but no sustained dialogue has occurred between Northern social policy studies and development studies. It is this bridge that this chapter attempts to construct.1 Midgley accuses ‘mainstream comparative social policy’ of neglecting normative, explanatory and practical issues in favour of ‘classificatory activities’. Elsewhere with Len Doyal I have tried to construct a universal normative framework via a theory of human needs (Doyal and Gough, 1991). In subsequent articles I have applied this theory to the evaluation of different economic systems as frameworks for satisfying human needs, and to a statistical analysis of cross-national variations in need-satisfaction (Gough, 2000, chapters 2 and 5). These issues are not directly addressed here, though they inform some of what follows. My concern in this chapter is positive and explanatory, yet it begins from a classificatory approach. The aim is to reconceptualize the welfare regime paradigm developed within Northern social policy studies to provide a rich, open and rewarding framework for understanding the nature and diversity of social policies in the South. Midgley has rightly criticized the relevance of...

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