Analysis of Seping-Anderson Three Worlds of the Welfare Capitalism

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Esping-Anderson (1990) describes different kinds of welfare state regime types in his book “three worlds of the welfare capitalism”. His book is one of the most cited books in welfare state literature. This is because of all the good things Esping-Anderson states in his book, but also because of some arguments which are considered controversial according to some authors (see Bambra, 2007 for detailed critique). Before elaborating on the critique on Esping-Anderson, his welfare state regime types will be further elaborated on. Esping-Anderson analysed and described the, in his time, 18 countries which were part of the organisation for economic co-operation and development (OECD countries). He came up with two distinct dimensions: 1. de-commodification and 2. stratification. By commodification, he means that the individual person and their labour are commodified which indicates that labour is the individual’s primary commodity (product to satisfy one’s basic life’s needs) in the market. So, de-commodification refers to the government’s activities and efforts to reduce individuals’ reliance on the market (their labour) for their well being. Examples are unemployment and sickness insurances, and pensions. These are also used as measures, to measure de-commodification when comparing welfare states. As for stratification, he aimed at that the status of an individual as a citizen will compete with, or even replace this individual’s class position. By this Esping-Anderson argues that the welfare states play a significant role in maintaining or breaking down social stratification. On the basis of these two principles, he deduced three different types of welfare state regime types. He distinguishes between Liberal, Christian-Democrat... ... middle of paper ... ...elfare state. In these countries, the welfare goals of poverty reduction and income inequality are made possible by redistribution rather than by high levels of expenditure. This is in line with the work of Korpi and Palme (1998). There has also been critique on the gender blindness of the work of Esping-Anderson (1990). He would not have taking into account the role of women when looking at de-commodification, stratification, and the provision of welfare (Lewis, 1992; Sainsbury, 1994). Esping-Anderson (1990) has also been criticised for his decision to organise the principle of classification around pensions, sickness benefits, and unemployment benefits. When doing this, he ignores that welfare states are also about the delivery of services such as health care and social services (Kautto, 2002). Methodological critiques: Castles, 1993, Kangas,1994, and Ragin, 1994

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