New Risks, New Welfare: The Transformation of the European Welfare State

New Risks, New Welfare: The Transformation of the European Welfare State

New Risks, New Welfare: The Transformation of the European Welfare State

New Risks, New Welfare: The Transformation of the European Welfare State


This book introduces the concept of new social risks in welfare state studies and explains their relevance to the comparative understanding of social policy in Europe. New social risks arise from shifts in the balance of work and family life as a direct result of the declining importance of the male breadwinner family, changes in the labor market, and the impact of globalization on national policy-making. They differ from the old social risks of the standard industrial life-course, which were concerned primarily with interruptions to income from sickness, unemployment, retirement, and similar issues. New social risks pose new challenges for the welfare policies of European countries, such as the care of children and the elderly, more equal opportunities, the activation of labor markets and the management of needs that arise from welfare state reform, and new opportunities for the coordination of policies at the EU level. The book includes detailed and up-to-date case studies of policy development across these areas in the major European countries. These studies, written by leading experts, are organized in a comparative framework which is followed throughout the book. They highlight the way in which national welfare state regimes and institutional arrangements shape policy-making to meet new social risks. A major feature of this volume is the analysis of developments at the EU level and their interaction with national policies. The EU has been largely unsuccessful in its interventions in old social risk policy, but appears to have more success in its attempts to coordinate policy for new social risks. Experience here may provide lessons for future developments in EU policy-making. The comparative framework of the book seeks to inform an understanding of the development of new social risks in Europe and of the particular political opportunities and challenges that result. It provides an original analysis of pressing issues at the forefront of European welfare policy debate and locates it at the heart of current theoretical debates.


Welfare states developed through political struggles in industrial society to meet the needs experienced by mass publics. Recent analysis has focused on the challenges to the industrial society welfare settlement resulting from population shifts, changes in the labour market and economic globalisation. This work shows that traditional patterns of welfare provision are remarkably resilient, but that current policy-making takes place in a climate of austerity and constraint. This book develops understanding of current welfare state transformations by directing attention to the new social risks that result from the transition to post-industrial society. Patterns of family life and employment are changing, with implications for the risks that different groups of citizens experience in everyday life, for opportunities to develop alliances to promote new forms of welfare, for the interests and roles of the traditional political actors (principally business, unions, and left- and right-wing political parties), and for the extent to which government can use welfare policy to promote national interests by mobilising the workforce and enhancing competitiveness.

Our work draws on the data gathered by a major EU Framework Five research project: Welfare Reform and the Management of Societal Change. We are grateful for the support which made collaboration possible. The arguments presented here were developed through discussion at a series of conferences in Canterbury, Paris, Madrid, Berlin, and Oxford, and via email. We also benefited from the unstinting advice of Professor Karl Hinrichs, our academic adviser, and from the comments of Professor Vivien Schmidt, and many others. Members of the group who are not named as chapter authors, but who nonetheless made major contributions to background work, debate and discussion are Professor Hellmut Wollmann, Mr Benoît Guy-des-Combes, Dr Anne Daguerre, Dr Ana Arriba, Mr Johannes Kapanen and Professor Ollie Kangas, and we are grateful for their support.

The Approach of this Book

This book discusses the emergence of new social risks and of policies to address them in the four European welfare state regimes: Nordic, corporatist, liberal, and Mediterranean, and also at the EU level. Analysis of policy-making requires the detailed study of processes in particular cases by an

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