Reading Development

Random readings on society, politics and change – Jorge Carrillo

The Continuing Enigmas of Social Policy

Ben Fine – This paper examines critically what has been one of the most successful intellectual contributions to the neoliberal period, Esping-Andersen’s Welfare Regimes Approach (WRA) to comparative social policy. The paper shows that the WRA has deep roots within the conditions of the post-war boom and, as a consequence, was already well past its “use by date” when it emerged in the 1990s, let alone over the subsequent two decades of neoliberalism that have been underpinned by financialization. A close examination of the literature on the WRA shows how it has suffered from being unable to account for the differences between countries and programmes and has neglected both the changing conditions associated with neoliberalism and the causal factors underpinning it, and the closer determination of social policies themselves. The paper offers similar commentary on other approaches to social policy, such as appeal to convergence, divergence or path dependence. To some degree, the study of social policy has become tired, having been used to addressing yet one more crisis of the welfare state as if all that is involved is another round of responses to neoliberal antipathy or straitened economic circumstances.

[Download paper]

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This entry was posted on Sunday, 13 July 2014 by in Social protection and tagged , .
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