Transnational Historical Perspectives on Social Policy
Edited by Pauli Kettunen and Klaus Petersen
Chapter 10: The history and future of social democratic welfare capitalism: from modernization to the spectres of ultramodernity
Christopher Lloyd How should we examine the history, tensions, contradictions, dynamics and possible futures of social democratic welfare capitalism? Has the inexorable transformation of globalizing economies and societies undermined the conditions for western welfare states? Which domestic and global socio-economic conditions are necessary for these regimes to continue, albeit in altered forms? These questions are the impetus for this chapter. Below is sketched an outline of a proposed larger conceptual, historical and comparative examination of this basic problem in the political economy of global capitalism. One way to approach these issues is via a comparative examination of two once similar but now diverging zones of welfare capitalism – the Nordic and Australasian zones. Their trajectories over the past century or more and particularly over recent decades are revealing about the nature of social democratic welfare capitalism (SDWC),1 its adaptiveness and its tendencies. SOCIAL DEMOCRATIC WELFARE CAPITALISM WITHIN THE EVOLUTIONARY PATTERN OF FORMS OF CAPITALISM Capitalism as a specific socio-political system of material production has always contained a dynamic dialectic of forces of structural stability and transformation within specific local contexts of historically and geographically derived conditions. These together have produced many local varieties and subvarieties of capitalism, in specific times and places, and a dense pattern of historical trajectories that display punctuated-equilibrium paths in the evolution of each variety and of the system as a whole. Seen as a whole, a ‘family tree’ or cladogram of the ‘genus’ capitalism, if such could be constructed, 199 200 Beyond welfare state models...
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