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Collapsing Worlds and Varieties of welfare capitalism: In search of a new political economy of welfare

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  • Waltraud Schelkle
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    Abstract

    The study of welfare capitalism is concerned with a founding question of political economy, namely how capitalism and democracy can be combined. Ever since the publication of Esping-Andersen’s Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism in 1990, the answer was sought in identifying ideal types of welfare states that support a class compromise. The Varieties of (Welfare) Capitalism literature is increasingly used as a complementary theory of production systems although its rationale for social policies is largely incompatible with the Worlds typology. This article argues, first, that popular regime typologies have degenerated as a research programme, notwithstanding their many achievements. The main reason for this lies in a simplistic notion of the relationship between politics and economics in modern society. Secondly, the article outlines an alternative for analysing welfare provisions and their evolution, drawing on insights of the new politics and the new economics of welfare. This framework can give a systematic account of welfare program restructuring that undermines regime typologies. It suggests a different question for the political economy of welfare, namely how capitalism and democracy can be kept distinct.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by European Institute, LSE in its series LEQS – LSE 'Europe in Question' Discussion Paper Series with number 54.

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    Date of creation: Nov 2012
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    Handle: RePEc:eiq:eileqs:54

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    Keywords: welfare state; political economy; comparative politics; varieties of capitalism;

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    1. Bruno Amable & Donatella Gatti & Jan Schumacher, 2006. "Welfare state retrenchment: The partisan effect revisited," PSE Working Papers halshs-00590537, HAL.
    2. Esping-Andersen, Gosta, 1999. "Social Foundations of Postindustrial Economies," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780198742005, September.
    3. Barr, Nicholas, 1992. "Economic Theory and the Welfare State: A Survey and Interpretation," Journal of Economic Literature, American Economic Association, vol. 30(2), pages 741-803, June.
    4. Ferrera, Maurizio & Hemerijck, Anton & Rhodes, Martin, 2000. "Recasting European Welfare States for the 21st Century," European Review, Cambridge University Press, vol. 8(03), pages 427-446, July.
    5. Sinn, Hans-Werner, 1995. "A Theory of the Welfare State," CEPR Discussion Papers 1278, C.E.P.R. Discussion Papers.
    6. Nicholas Barr, 1992. "Economic theory and the welfare state : a survey and interpretation," LSE Research Online Documents on Economics 279, London School of Economics and Political Science, LSE Library.
    7. Agell, Jonas, 1998. "On the Benefits from Rigid Labour Markets: Norms, Market Failures, and Social Insurance," Working Paper Series 1998:17, Uppsala University, Department of Economics.
    8. Crouch, Colin, 2005. "Capitalist Diversity and Change: Recombinant Governance and Institutional Entrepreneurs," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199286652, September.
    9. Amable, Bruno, 2003. "The Diversity of Modern Capitalism," OUP Catalogue, Oxford University Press, number 9780199261147, September.
    10. A. B. Atkinson, 1999. "The Economic Consequences of Rolling Back the Welfare State," MIT Press Books, The MIT Press, edition 1, volume 1, number 0262011719, December.
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