Exploring Culture and Welfare Regimes: can the examination of cross-national differences in societal values help us to understand differences in welfare state activity?

2014-11-11T12:56:48Z (GMT) by John Hudson Nam K. Jo Antonia Keung
<p>Slides from our presentation to the Australian Social Policy Conference 2013, University of New South Wales, 16th-18th September, 2013</p> <p> </p> <p><strong>Abstract</strong></p> <p>Though culture is often suggested to be central to the understanding of cross-national differences in welfare state activity (Castles 1994, for instance, identified families of nations partly on this basis), there are few studies that have attempted to systematically analyse the influence of culture on welfare state types empirically. In part this is because both an absence of data and clear conceptions of culture have hampered such analyses. However, successive waves of both the European Values Survey and World Values Survey now provide us with detailed data on societal values stretching back over several decades. Moreover, recent debates about how this data might be used to identify stable societal values as a proxy measure of national culture (Jo, 2011) have provided us with the methodological and conceptual tools required to advance our understanding of the links between culture and welfare using cross-national quantitative data sets. This paper reports on the second stage of a project that builds on these advances in order to further our understanding of the links between culture and welfare. The first stage of the project (the main results of which are summarised here) used successive waves of the EVS and WVS to identify stable societal values in a sample of 59 countries from 1981 to the present. Using principal components analysis 10 societal values were identified in this phase of the analysis. The second stage, which forms the core focus of this paper, explores how far these cross national differences in societal values can be used help us understand how culture relates to the different typologies of welfare that have been at the heart of comparative social policy analysis since the publication of Esping-Andersen's ground breaking work (1990). Using a mixture of quantitative and fuzzy set methods (Ragin, 2000), we explore whether culture can be usefully incorporated within typologies of welfare both as one key aspect differentiating welfare systems cross-nationally and as one of the causal factors underpinning the development of distinctive long run path dependent trajectories of welfare states.</p>