A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy, Second Edition
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A Handbook of Comparative Social Policy, Second Edition

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 6: The ethnocentric construction of the welfare state

Alan Walker and Chack-kie Wong


In recent years, there has been growing interest in the welfare systems of East Asian societies (Jones, 1993; McLaughlin, 1993; Chan, 1996; Peng, 1996; Goodman et al., 1998; Jacobs, 1998; Lin, 1999; Aspalter, 2001; Walker and Wong, 2005; Chan et al., 2010). However, whether the welfare systems of these societies should be classified as welfare states remains an unresolved, if not a controversial issue, especially in the case of China. Some writers (McLaughlin, 1993; Goodman et al., 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 text Comparing Welfare States: Britain in International Context, McLaughlin (1993, p. 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 et al., 1998). Nevertheless, there are exceptions where the description ‘welfare state’ is applied to East Asian societies (Rose and Shiratori, 1986; Chan, 1996; Goodman and Peng, 1996; Aspalter, 2001); and recently, there is more use of the welfare state classification with regard to East Asian welfare systems, especially in the cases of South Korea and Taiwan following the democratization of their political systems (Holliday, 2000; Kim, 2001; Kwon, 2005; Lee and Ku, 2007).

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