How cultural change can contribute to welfare state change: Tracing cultural and institutional processes

Tuesday, 12 July 2016: 18:00
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Oral Presentation
Birgit PFAU-EFFINGER, University of Hamburg, Germany
Welfare states often develop along established development paths, and the institutional design and the underlying principles of welfare state institutions are not questioned in principle. However, institutional development can also lead to path departure in specific policy fields. What is the reason for path departure in welfare state institutions? It has often been argued that it is the result of economic, political, social or demographic change in a society, or of a shift in power relations between actors with differing interests. Less attention was paid to the influence of cultural change on path breaking welfare state change. The paper explores how cultural change can contribute to path breaking change in welfare state policies, and how it interacts with other relevant factors. Its theoretical framework is based on the assumption that cultural change can contribute to welfare state change only if specific types of cultural and institutional processes are initiated by relevant actors; these are either started at the political level or in within the population. The paper also introduces a typology of different types of cultural and institutional processes that can be relevant in this context.   

In its empirical part the paper evaluates these theoretical assumptions on the basis of a study of  six  historical sequences in which paradigmatic institutional change took place in European welfare states. The main focus is on the development of labour market policies, childcare and elderly care in the time period between 1980 and 2014, on the basis of document analysis, statistical data, national survey data and international surveys like ISSP, EVS and Eurobarometer. The findings support the theoretical assumptions. The paper can make an innovative contribution to the scientific debate about the relationship between culture and welfare state, and to the debate about the future of welfare states.