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The worlds of welfare: illusory and gender blind?

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Clare BambraORCiD


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The nature of welfare state regimes has been an ongoing debate within the comparative social policy literature since the publication of Esping-Andersen's The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990). This paper engages with two aspects of this debate; the gender critique of Esping-Andersen's thesis, and Kasza's (2002) assertions about the ‘illusory nature’ of welfare state regimes. It presents a gender-focused defamilisation index and contrasts it with Esping-Andersen's decommodification index to illustrate that, whilst individual welfare states have been shown to exhibit internal variety across different policy areas, they are both consistent and coherent in terms of their policy variation by gender. It concludes, in contrast to both the gender critique of Esping-Andersen, and Kasza's rejection of the regimes concept, that the ‘worlds of welfare’ approach is therefore neither gender blind or illusory, and can, if limited to the analysis of specific areas such as labour market decommodification or defamilisation, be resurrected as a useful means of organising and classifying welfare states.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Bambra C

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Policy and Society

Year: 2004

Volume: 3

Issue: 3

Pages: 201-211

Print publication date: 01/07/2004

Online publication date: 01/07/2004

ISSN (print): 1474-7464

ISSN (electronic): 1475-3073

Publisher: Cambridge University Press


DOI: 10.1017/S147474640400171X


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