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Family as a Socio-economic Actor in the Political Economies of East and South-East Asian Welfare Capitalisms

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JournalSocial Policy and Administration
DateAccepted/In press - 15 Aug 2017
DateE-pub ahead of print - 2 Oct 2017
DatePublished (current) - Nov 2017
Issue number6
Number of pages19
Pages (from-to)857-875
Early online date2/10/17
Original languageEnglish


In this article, we revisit Karl Polanyi’s concept of ‘oikos’ in order to reconceptualize the role of the family as both a welfare provider and economic actor in the social reproduction of East and South East Asian welfare capitalisms. Our article is structured in four parts. First, we critically review existing approaches on the characteristics of welfare capitalism in East and South East Asia. We argue that existing approaches tend to isolate family as a welfare provider and neglect how the role of the family is institutionalized as a collective actor. The second part focuses on the role of the family in the social production of welfare capitalism, and explores how, in East and South East Asia, the specific conditions for family’s role as an economic actor were institutionalized historically. The third part revisits Polanyi’s concept of ‘oikos’ and how
householding’ constitutes one of the most important forms of economic action allowing us to examine the family as a socio-economic actor. In the fourth section, we provide an analysis of families' available strategies and evidence related to private education expenditure, household debt and labour market income share. We conclude by highlighting the need to re-articulate the importance of family as a collective socio-economic actor that, despite recent reforms and path departures, remains at the epicentre of East and South East Asian welfare capitalisms.

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© 2017, John Wiley & Sons Ltd. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details.

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