136 The Welfare State As Crisis Manager/the Politics of the New Welfare State

Wednesday, June 26, 2013: 11:00 AM-12:45 PM
C0.17 (Oudemanhuispoort)
In the context of the conference theme ‘Crisis and Contingency: States of (In)stability’, this panel proposes an in-depth discussion around two volumes. The first one is the monograph The Welfare State as Crisis Manager by Peter Starke, Alexandra Kaasch and Franca van Hooren (Palgrave Macmillan, forthcoming in February 2013). The book deals with the social policy responses of mature welfare states to global economic crisis. The empirical focus is on three crisis periods – the oil shocks of the 1970s, the worldwide recession of the early 1990s, and the financial crisis that began in 2008 –, and four OECD welfare states – Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands and Sweden. The cross-country comparison is embedded in a detailed discussion of the transnational ‘intellectual climate’ at the time of the three shocks. The book thus combines a traditional comparative approach with a Global Social Policy perspective. It argues, first, that, contrary to historical institutionalist accounts, there is little evidence that global economic crises constitute a ‘critical juncture’ and, second, that partisan politics matter for the content of policy reactions, albeit conditional on the size of the welfare state.

The second book is the volume The Politics of the New Welfare State edited by Giuliano Bonoli and David Natali. Since the early 1990s, European welfare states have undergone substantial changes, in terms of objectives, areas of intervention, and instruments. Traditional programs, such as old age pensions have been curtailed throughout the continent, while new functions have been taken up. At present, welfare states are expected to help non-working people back into employment, to complement work income for the working poor, to reconcile work and family life, to promote gender equality, to support child development, and to provide social services for an ageing society. The welfare settlement that is emerging at the beginning of the 21st century is nonetheless very different in terms of functions and instruments from the one inherited from the last century. This book seeks to offer a better understanding of the new welfare settlement, and to analyze the factors that have shaped the recent transformation.

The two books allow discussion about a number of central issues. The first is the interplay of short-term responses to shocks – which are the focus of the book by Starke et al. – and more long-term, structural trajectories. The edited book by Bonoli and Natali provides information about the recent evolution of welfare states in western Europe (before and after the Great Recession). The second important issue is the status of traditional approaches to welfare state change. Bonoli and Natali propose the politics of multi-dimensionality as a key trait of the politics of welfare state change and discuss the changing boundaries of solidarity across territories and risk groups whereas Starke et al.’s approach is based more on ‘old politics’ mechanisms, though with a crisis-related twist

Klaus Werner Armingeon
Anton Hemerijck , Barbara Vis , Patrick Emmenegger , Rianne Mahon , Giuliano Bonoli , David Natali , Peter Starke , Franca van Hooren and Alexandra Kaasch
See more of: Session Proposals