Edited by Bo Rothstein and Sven Steinmo.
The contributions in this volume reject the notion of “convergence” – that under the pressures of retrenchment and globalisation the welfare regimes of developed countries tend to follow similar strategies. To the contrary there are, these authors assert, multiple challenges which elicit multiple responses.
Each contributor then sets about examining specific institutional arrangements in countries such as France, the USA, UK, Germany and Japan.
One useful contribution examines “race” in the development of welfare in Britain, the US, France and Germany; its welcome style and refusal to invent new abstractions sets it apart from the others.
In the volume there is a whiff of satisfaction – that welfare states are evolving positively in new environments in which they find themselves. For example, the chapter on the US explains how tax incentives have encouraged corporations to offer a “shadow welfare state” which offers major benefits such as maternity leave, pensions and health insurance. Corporate gutting of pension funds and termination of health plans over the past three years requires this chapter to be rewritten.
John Pierson is senior lecturer, Institute of Social Work and Applied Social Studies, Staffordshire University.