New Research from the WelfSoc Project: how the different kinds of welfare state remain distinct despite all being affected by major austerity programmes

by Peter Taylor-Gooby

Modern welfare states depend on a range of actors: state, market, family/households, employers and charities. Current austerity programmes diminish the contribution of the state and enhance that of the other actors. This is a major shift which demands popular support if it is to succeed, but attitude studies focus almost entirely on people’s views on state responsibilities, using welfare regime theory to explain differences. Our research examines attitudes to other providers such as the market, the family or employers. We also introduce social risk theories, contrasting new and old risks. Regime theory implies differences will persist over time, but risk theory suggests that growing similarities in certain risks may tend to promote international convergence. Our new article, published in the Journal of Social Policy (1) analyses attitudes to the roles of state, market, family, charity/community and employer for pension and childcare in Germany and the UK. We collected data using deliberative forums, a new method in social policy research that allows citizens space to pursue extended lightly moderated discussion and permits researchers to analyse people’s justifications for their attitudes. We show that there is a degree of convergence in attitudes, especially in relation to the new social risk area of childcare, but that regime predominates in people’s justifications for their attitudes. The issues are discussed in more detail in our book, Attitudes, Aspirations and Welfare, Peter Taylor-Gooby and Benjamin Leruth, Palgrave.  Despite austerity and all the pressures to which European welfare states are exposed regime differences in attitudes remain resilient.

For more details and for our publications and papers please consult the project’s website:

(1) Regimes, Social Risks and the Welfare Mix: Unpacking Attitudes to Pensions and Childcare in Germany and the UK through Deliberative Forums

Peter Taylor-GoobyJan-Ocko Heuer, Heejung Chung, Benjamin Leruth, Steffen Mau and Katharina Zimmermann,