Francis G. Castles, Stephan Leibfried, Jane Lewis, Herbert Obinger and Christopher Pierson

in The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State

Published in print July 2010 | ISBN: 9780199579396
Published online September 2010 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Politics & International Relations


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  • Comparative Politics
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This article discusses the book, which elucidates the philosophical justifications underlying the welfare state; the approaches, methods, and disciplinary perspectives of comparative social policy research; and the historical development and driving forces of the welfare state, its past achievements, contemporary challenges, and likely future developments. The origins of the Western welfare state date back to the last quarter of the nineteenth century and are closely associated with deep societal, economic, and political transformations taking place at that time. The most influential critique — in terms of its real-world political consequences — was that articulated by theories of neoliberalism. Structural change in the economy in combination with intensified international regime competition triggered fundamental changes in labour markets. There are many who predict the global transfer of power from the United States to China — but a transfer of that magnitude has never before been achieved peacefully.

Keywords: welfare state; comparative social policy; neoliberalism; economy; international competition; labour markets; global transfer

Article.  7594 words. 

Subjects: Politics ; Comparative Politics ; Political Institutions

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