New Social Risks and Welfare States: New Paradigm and New Politics?

Peter Taylor-Gooby

in New Risks, New Welfare

Published in print September 2004 | ISBN: 9780199267262
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191602023 | DOI:
New Social Risks and Welfare States: New Paradigm and New Politics?

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This chapter reviews work on new social risks. It concludes that welfare state regime and policy‐making structure makes an important difference to the emergence and development of new social risk policies. Scandinavian social democratic regimes have the best developed policies, liberal regimes develop policies rapidly but are handicapped by reliance on market solutions; corporatist countries develop new social risk provision slowly, typically through compromise with a range of entrenched policy actors; and Mediterranean countries also move relatively slowly, in the context of an expanding welfare state and great reliance on family systems. Existing old social risk policies are also influential, both through the resources that they take up and the interest groups of political actors they create, who are likely to resist reform. New social risk policy‐making is highly important at the EU level for two reasons: the relatively undeveloped national policies in this area mean that cross‐national agencies can offer new policy directions; the policies are congruent with the open market ‘pragmatic monetarist’ approach of EU economic policy. The politics of new social risks differs from that of old social risks. Employers’ groups and modernising parties and unions play an important role and progress is often slow and dependent on compromise. By focussing on areas where reforms are urgent, to meet new needs, but also feasible, because they fit with the context of more globalized and competitive economies, the new social risks approach offers a new perspective on welfare state reform in Europe. This approach avoids the bleak emphasis on retrenchment of much previous analysis of the development of welfare policy.

Keywords: compromise; consensus; EU; Europe; globalisation; monetarism; new social risks; open market; policy‐making structure; political systems; reform; regimes; social policy; welfare state; Westminster

Chapter.  11956 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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