The ‘Gap-Filling' Role of Civil Society Organisations for an Ageing Population in a Global Context: A Comparative Study of Three Welfare States - Japan, Britain and Sweden

Thursday, July 17, 2014: 8:45 AM
Room: 301
Oral Presentation
Mayumi HAYASHI , Social Science, Health and Medicine, King's College London, London, United Kingdom
Utae MORI , Faculty of Economics, Osaka University of Economics, Osaka, Japan
Itsuko TOYAMA (KANAMOTO) , St. Andrew's University, Izumi, Osaka, Japan
Across the globe, societies face pressing challenges to address the needs of their rapidly ageing populations against a background of austerity. This is particularly true of Japan, Britain and Sweden, all ageing and established welfare states, where each government has attempted to expand and diversify public care services. This is reflected in their respective new and reformed public care systems. However, none of these countries’ systems has succeeded in meeting all care needs, and recent austerity and budget cuts have exposed further difficulties. Accordingly each government has been painstakingly exploring new and cost-effective methods of providing care. Specifically, there has been optimism that civil society organisations might step in and fill the gaps left by public provision.

This paper, drawing on empirical research involving detailed interviews and participant observation, will examine and compare successful and innovative models of civil society organisations that have developed ‘gap-filling’ services for older people in Japan, Britain and Sweden. Key findings concerning each model will be considered briefly within their national context, highlighting nation-specific features. Analysis of models at a national level will then be placed in a transnational and comparative perspective, underscoring best practice benchmarks together with the challenges encountered by organisations. For instance, while the standardised and universalist Japanese model mobilises traditional quasi-governmental community resources, the British model emphasises partnership working and recognises innovation and professionalism, and Sweden’s model is characterised by localism and sensitivity towards the employment of ‘conventional’ labour, with volunteers being discouraged. In conclusion, this paper will discuss suggestions for future care policy making and possible refinement of the care market, potentially transcending national boundaries. It will also consider how experiences and best practice from the models examined here could be utilised in other countries to pursue evidence-based sustainable care policies and promote civil society.