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Analysing social policy concepts and language

Analysing social policy concepts and language: Comparative and Transnational Perspectives

Daniel Béland
Klaus Petersen
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  • Book Info
    Analysing social policy concepts and language
    Book Description:

    Social policy scholars and practitioners work with concepts such as “welfare state” and “social security” but where do these concepts come from and how has their meaning changed over time? Which are the dominant social policy concepts and how are they contested? What characterises social policy language in specific countries and regions of the world and how do social concepts travel between countries? Addressing such questions in a systematic manner for the first time, this edited collection, written by a cross-disciplinary group of leading social policy researchers, analyses the concepts and language used to make sense of contemporary social policy. The volume focuses on OECD countries located on four different continents: Asia, Australasia, Europe, and North America. Combining detailed chapters on particular countries with broader comparative chapters, the book strikes a rare balance between case studies and transnational perspectives. It will be of interest to academics and students in social policy, social work, political science, sociology, history, and public administration, as well as practitioners and policy makers.

    eISBN: 978-1-4473-0645-0
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. List of figures and tables
    (pp. v-vi)
  2. Introduction: social policy concepts and language
    (pp. 1-12)
    Daniel Béland and Klaus Petersen

    Social scientists, historians, and linguists have noted that the terms, metaphors, and concepts we use are far from innocent and are closely tied to political struggles and international exchanges.¹ Therefore, from a comparative and international perspective, studying terminology and concept formation is an important part of both political and policy analysis (Williams, 1976; Sartori, 1984; Farr, 1989; Heywood, 2000; Daigneault, 2012). This is also the case when it comes to social policy. The words we use to make sense of social policy and the way we use them need to be properly studied to get the definitions right while grasping...

  3. ONE Social policy language in Denmark and Sweden
    (pp. 13-34)
    Nils Edling, Jørn Henrik Petersen and Klaus Petersen

    The term ‘welfare’ is of Nordic origin. The Old Englishwel faran, meaning getting along and/or doing well, comes from Old Norsevelferð, which in modern English means welfare (Hoad, 1996). This linguistic connection should certainly not be exaggerated, but the Nordic welfare states definitely enjoy a special position in international political and scholarly discourses. The Nordic or Scandinavian welfare state is a wellestablished model, and there would seem to be widespread agreement that the Nordic welfare state is something special. The question we pose here is: does this Nordic welfare state also come with a distinct social policy language?...

  4. TWO The changing language of social policy in Hungary and Poland
    (pp. 35-58)
    Zsófia Aczél, Dorota Szelewa and Dorottya Szikra

    The modern history of Hungary and Poland, both belonging to Central and Eastern Europe (CEE), is characterised by turbulent political and economic changes and ‘emergency’ decisions in the field of social policy (Inglot, 2008). Forty years of an autocratic communist regime provides the strongest common legacy of social policy in the two countries. The subsequent liberal democracies, built up since 1990, have, however, brought to the surface long-forgotten patterns of midwar social policy in both countries which now shape the language of social policy, together with that from their communist legacies. The neoliberal agenda of ‘retrenchment’ has penetrated Eastern European...

  5. THREE Languages of ‘social policy’ at ‘the EU level’
    (pp. 59-80)
    Jean-Claude Barbier

    What one could cursorily call the ‘language’ question in European Union (EU) social policy is generally overlooked by social scientists. Under the apparently benign use of one of the varieties of ‘international English’, the EU perhaps provides the clearest illustration of the tendency to blur the frontiers between politics, social science and political communication. Thismélange des genresaffects the participants in the production of the languages of social policy¹¹ , the spaces where they craft them, and the ensuing discourses that travel across Europe and beyond. After a short section devoted to the definition of ‘social policy’ at the...

  6. FOUR The OECD’s search for a new social policy language: from welfare state to active society
    (pp. 81-100)
    Rianne Mahon

    The International Labour Organisation (ILO) was the first international organisation with an explicit social mandate, but by the 1960s it had been joined by a plethora of UN related and other international organisations, including the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Although the OECD’s primary mission was to promote economic cooperation among advanced capitalist economies, it has also become an important node in transnational social policy networks, working alongside other key international organisations and in close cooperation with the European Commission.²⁸ Some see the OECD as an important contributor to the neoliberal assault on the welfare state (Armingeon and...

  7. FIVE The discursive power of international organisations: social policy language and concepts in the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund
    (pp. 101-126)
    Antje Vetterlein

    In a system of global governance, international organisations (IOs) are increasingly shaping domestic policies. This is particularly the case for policy fields such as social policy, where the nation-state seems to lose power and control in times of globalisation. The World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF) are two powerful IOs. They not only set policy agendas but also, at least in developing countries, have sanctioning power through their financial interventions. In addition, insofar as they define the meaning of development using particular social policy language and concepts, they also impact global discourses of social policy in developed countries....

  8. SIX Original and imitated or elusive and limited? Towards a genealogy of the welfare state idea in Britain
    (pp. 127-142)
    Daniel Wincott

    Britain occupies a pivotal and peculiar position in the historiography of the welfare state, looming large in the dominant – largely taken for granted – periodisation of welfare state history. Structured around a (roughly) thirty-year ‘golden age’ after 1945 (Wincott, 2013), the iconography of this metanarrative begins and ends with Britain. So ‘British reforms introduced between 1945 and 1948’ ‘designed the firstcoherentandsystematic architectureof auniversalisticwelfare state’ (Ferrera, 2005: 64, emphasis added). While its precise endpoint is harder to date, Margaret Thatcher’s assumption of the British premiership often appears as a decisive moment in the welfare state’s demise....

  9. SEVEN Social policy concepts and language in France
    (pp. 143-156)
    Daniel Béland

    This volume explores the politics and history of social policy language and concepts. A country associated with both universalism and a unique Republican political culture, France is an interesting case for the analysis of social policy language because of the contested nature of the very concepts that help define what social policy is about. Another reason to turn attention to France is the influence of this country on international policy debates, within the European Union and beyond. For instance, the concept of social exclusion, which has now entered the international policy vocabulary, first emerged as a ‘keyword’ in France, before...

  10. EIGHT The language of social politics in Finland
    (pp. 157-176)
    Pauli Kettunen

    Among the five representatives of the Nordic model, Denmark, Finland, Iceland, Norway and Sweden, each an exception in its own way, Finland may easily qualify as the most exceptional one. Finland was a latecomer in industrialisation and urbanisation, and it was also the Nordic latecomer in the field of social policies and industrial relations. Connections and conflicts with the Czarist and Soviet Empires are a particular dimension of Finland’s history, and the class based Civil War of 1918 and the two wars against the Soviet Union (1939–40 and 1941–44) as a part of the Second World War had...

  11. NINE Germany: constructing the ‘win-win’ society
    (pp. 177-192)
    Stephan Lessenich

    Concepts have a nonlinear life: What holds for social policy language in general and for the politico-academic concept of the welfare state in particular should be true for the history of ‘welfare semantics’ (Lessenich, 2003a) in Germany. With Germany having passed through extremely different political regimes throughout the 20th century – imperial authoritarianism, contested democracy, fascistVolksgemeinschaft, liberal/communist double stateness, ‘post-national’ reunification – it is hardly a surprise that German social policy language likewise changed substantially from Bismarck’s to Merkel’s times. The German welfare language community has moved away from addressing the ‘tough’ problem(s) of the industrial working class (Arbeiterfrage) in the...

  12. TEN Conceptual development of welfare and social policy in Japan
    (pp. 193-210)
    Toshimitsu Shinkawa and Yuki Tsuji

    What strikes researchers who begin investigating the conceptual history of welfare and social policy in Japan is the sheer variety of translations of the term ‘welfare’. Depending on the context, people use two different translations:kōseiandfukushi, and sometimes combine the two asfukuri kōsei. The Ministry of Health and Welfare in Japan, established in 1938 and merged in 2001 with the Ministry of Labour into the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare, was called the ‘Kōsei Shō.’ In contrast, people use the termfukushi, instead ofkōsei, when they say ‘he/she is dependent on welfare,’ suggesting that the...

  13. ELEVEN Transition to the ‘universal welfare state’: the changing meaning of ‘welfare state’ in Korea
    (pp. 211-228)
    Huck-ju Kwon

    When the current author’s book,The Welfare State in Korea: the Politics of Legitimation, was published in the late 1990s (Kwon, 1999), many fellow Korean academics and students asked the same question: ‘Do you think Korea is a welfare state?’ The response was, ‘Korea is not a welfare state, but the book examines the welfare state in Korea’.¹⁰⁵ People were a little confused at this answer. This was because the concept of the welfare state had at least two different meanings. First, in the Korean language, the welfare state (Pokjikukga) is a nation-state that provides a comprehensive range of social...

  14. TWELVE The Dutch ‘caring state’
    (pp. 229-246)
    Kees van Kersbergen and Jaap Woldendorp

    The Dutch term used to describe the welfare state is ‘verzorgingsstaat’. ‘Verzorgen’ means ‘to take care of ’, but also ‘to care’, and implies ‘to nurture’, ‘to tend to’ and ‘to nurse’. The word ‘verzorging’, for instance, also appears in the term ‘verzorgingshuis’ (nursing home). The distinct connotation of the Dutch term is paternalistic and reminiscent of charity in its emphasis on obligation rather than rights: it is the state’s obligation to help weak people in society. This connotation is heavily loaded by the heritage of religious political actors, especially the Catholic People’s Party (Katholieke Volkspartij– KVP)¹¹⁵, one of the...

  15. THIRTEEN Panacea, problem or perish: social policy language in New Zealand
    (pp. 247-262)
    Neil Lunt

    New Zealand has long been at the forefront of continuous reforms of its economic and social welfare system. Since colonisation by the British in the 19th century, the settler state was a powerful driver of economic development and, later in the century, state intervention emerged across labour markets, health and social assistance, including the establishment of old age pensions in 1898. As Phillips (2011) writes, ‘The Liberal reforms of the 1890s attracted international interest and signified the nation’s distinctive egalitarian ethos’. Such innovations led to New Zealand being called a ‘social laboratory’, a reputation that continues to have contemporary resonance....

  16. FOURTEEN Evolving social policy languages in Spain: what did democracy and EU membership change?
    (pp. 263-276)
    Ana M. Guillén and David Luque

    This chapter analyses the historical evolution of the social policy languages and concepts in Spain. It focuses on the changing meanings of ‘social security’ (seguridad social) and ‘welfare state’ (estado del bienestar) but it also takes into account how entitlements and recipients were defined and how these notions changed over time.

    The interest in the Spanish case for analysing the evolution of social policy language is derived precisely from its peculiar historical development. Modern¹²⁰ social policy was initiated in Spain in 1900. The development of social insurance followed the Bismarckian model from then until the end of Franco’s authoritarian regime...

  17. FIFTEEN Social policy language in the United States
    (pp. 277-296)
    Jennifer Klein, Daniel Béland and Klaus Petersen

    Policy discourse in the United States (US) has drawn on languages about labour, citizenship, and family. Beyond the specifications of formal citizenship (birth in the US, naturalisation procedures, freedom and unfreedom, voting rights), there is a language that shapes understandings of citizenship – rights and obligations, membership or inclusion, and individuals’ relationship to the state. From the mid-19th century, industrial capitalism sparked mass migration and immigration, intensive urbanisation, wage work, and the lack of work. The rapidly changing nature of American democracy, historian Michael Katz noted, also brought with it new questions about who merited help and what the limits of...

  18. Conclusion: comparative perspectives on social policy language
    (pp. 297-312)
    Klaus Petersen and Daniel Béland

    This edited volume has offered comparative, historical, and political perspectives on the development of social policy concepts and language in a number of advanced industrial countries. For decades, social policy scholars and practitioners have used concepts such as ‘welfare state’ and ‘social security’ without paying much attention to where these concepts come from and how their meanings have changed over time. The previous chapters in our volume have addressed this question by exploring the social policy language of relevant international organisations: Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD); European Union (EU); International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank; and of...