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Analyzing the Productive and Protective Dimensions of Welfare: Looking Beyond the OECD

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Publication details

JournalSocial Policy and Administration
DateE-pub ahead of print - 20 Oct 2011
DatePublished (current) - Feb 2012
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)35-60
Early online date20/10/11
Original languageEnglish


Several theorists have argued that social policy in East Asia can be seen as representing a distinctive welfare ideal type based around ‘productive welfare’. However, we have contested such claims in earlier work (Hudson and Kühner 2009) and, in common with theorists such as Castells, have suggested that some of the welfare states of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) have a distinct bias towards the ‘productive’ rather than ‘protective’ dimensions of welfare. In this article, we build on our earlier work, utilizing fuzzy set ideal type analysis (FSITA) to explore the balance between ‘productive' and ‘protective’ dimensions of welfare state activity. Here we extend our analysis beyond the OECD, incorporating a range of nations on the ‘fringe’ of the OECD from Latin America, East Asia and the non-OECD parts of Europe. In so doing, we contest simple notions of welfare regimes aligning with regional blocks. Primarily, however, we highlight the advantages of the ‘diversity-orientated’ approach to data analysis that fuzzy set methods facilitate in comparison with standard quantitative techniques. In particular, we utilize FSITA to avoid data availability and reliability issues that have plagued quantitatively informed classifications of global welfare regimes. Not least, we argue FSITA allows for the contextualization of cases in a way that is sealed to quantitatively driven, comparative research. Thus, we argue FSITA has an important role to play in attempts to extend the inclusiveness of the ‘welfare modelling business’ in a manner that reflects diverse and highly significant cases beyond the Western lens that dominates the literature.

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