Stagnation and Renewal in Social Policy: The Rise and Fall of Policy Regimes

Stagnation and Renewal in Social Policy: The Rise and Fall of Policy Regimes

Stagnation and Renewal in Social Policy: The Rise and Fall of Policy Regimes

Stagnation and Renewal in Social Policy: The Rise and Fall of Policy Regimes

Synopsis

These essays analyze the ideological and historical sources of the apparent reversal of the pattern of welfare state expansion in the United States, Great Britain, and Western and Eastern Europe.

Excerpt

This volume emerged from a series of seminars on the welfare state held at Harvard and MIT during the early 1980s. In trying to account for the growing sense of crisis in the contemporary welfare state, we found ourselves confronted with a literature that left us largely unsatisfied. The problem we faced was the huge discrepancy between the rich diversity that national histories of social policy portray and the theoretical literature's tendency to reduce comparative welfare state developments to one, or a few, common denominators.

The historical emphasis of our seminars prompted a second revelation: the perception of a welfare state crisis has been a recurrent theme over the entire century of modern social policy development. From our comparative readings, we were struck not only by the uniqueness of distinct welfare state regimes but also by the historical leaps and realignments that have marked the evolution of social policy. Therefore, we approached the subject from a wholly different perspective. We began with diversity and examined to what degree this reveals convergence or divergence. Hence, this book is organized around a set of "extremist" or "ideal-typical" social policy regime comparisons.

A third theme that unceasingly dominated our seminars was Karl Polanyi's view of embeddedness of the economy, and how, in the Great Transformation, social policy was "separated" from the economy. The idea of a duality between state and economy has guided intellectual thought for centuries. This book is a contribution to the reexamination of this convention.

The individual contributions to this volume were first presented and discussed at a small workshop held at the Center for European Studies at Harvard University in 1982. The editors wish to thank both the Center and the publisher, M. E. Sharpe, for their generous help in making this book possible. We also wish to thank the Science Center in Berlin, where the book was finalized.

Cambridge, Mass. 1985 . . .

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