9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN26 Sociology of Social Policy

2009-09-03 13:30:00 2009-09-03 15:00:00 Thursday, 3 September 13:30 - 15:00 Comparing European Welfare Regimes Building II, Auditório C1.04

Welfare regimes in four countries - a pre-comparative proposition

This paper forms part of a qualitative research project on household strategies under conditions of precarious prosperity in four countries: Chile, Costa Rica, Spain and Switzerland. Data on household strategies shall then be compared with regard to given welfare regimes and social policy measures on the one hand, subjective interpretations hereof on the other hand.

For such a comparative approach, it is necessary to characterize available welfare measures in these four countries. In recent years, most comparative perspectives have relied on Esping-Andersen´s (1990) typology of three worlds of welfare. However, this book and academic debate following its publication is of little use for the four countries in question (Cf. Arts/Gelissen 2002): Switzerland has not been adequately classified and switches type of welfare regime according to which indicators are taken into account (Armingeon/Bertozzi/Bonoli 2004, Arts/Gelissen 2002). It has thus been termed a "Sonderfall" in several occasions (Nollert 2006). For the case of Spain, several authors have attempted to include this country under the newly created type of "Latin" countries. However, this "post-authoritarian" welfare regime (Leibfried 1990, Lessenich 1994, Schmid 2002) still remains a "special case". And if later attempts to make Esping-Andersen´s typology viable for a broader range of countries have included Australia and New Zealand, the perspective on Southern countries has remained very limited and thus irrelevant for the Latin American cases. A classification that makes two cases look like exceptions to the rule and that does not take into account the two other cases is of little relevance for our project. Other comparative frameworks are hard to come by or have not yet overcome themselves the "pre-comparative" phase (Schubert/Hegelich/Bazant 2008).

We have thus decided to rely on a rather descriptive overview over the welfare regimes in the four countries under consideration. Instead of trying to classify and label them, we would like to briefly expose their major traits in the domains of social security, employment, health and education, including available comparative indicators. These descriptions will serve as a basis for the comparative design of the research project later on.