The lost and the new 'liberal world' of welfare capitalism: a critical assessment of Gøsta Esping-Andersen's the three worlds of welfare capitalism a quarter century later

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    Celebrating the 25th birthday of Gøsta Esping-Andersen's seminal book The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990), this article looks back at the old ‘liberal world’ and examines the new. In so doing, it contributes to debates and the literature on liberal welfare state development in three main ways. First, it considers the concept of ‘liberalism’ and liberal ideas about welfare provision contained within Three Worlds. Here we are also interested in how liberal thought has conceptualised the (welfare) state, and the class-mobilisation theory of welfare-state development. Second, the article elaborates on ‘neo-’liberal social reforms and current welfare arrangements in the English-speaking democracies and their welfare states. Finally, it considers the extent to which the English-speaking world of welfare capitalism is still meaningfully ‘liberal’ and coherent today.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)405-422
    Number of pages19
    JournalSocial Policy and Society
    Issue number3
    Early online date9 Mar 2016
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2017


    • welfare regimes
    • welfare state capitalism
    • liberalism
    • neoliberalism
    • comparative social policy

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