POLI 212 Lecture Notes - Nuclear Family, Knowledge Economy, Human Capital
MARCH 23, 2012: Conference
Esping-Anderson readings: he creates a dynamic typology that separates three
general categories to attempt to explain how they came about, and not all countries
necessarily fit into these categories (ex. Welfare regimes, continental cases involve
pieces of other types); whereas Siaroff wants his typology to be jointly exclusive and
He is interested in questions of social citizenship and social welfare
Esping-Anderson is looking at the development of welfare regimes throughout key
periods in history. This includes the initial formation of welfare regimes (in the first
piece) and how society responds to economic changes, which corresponds with the
earlier period of industrialization and capitalism.
Esping-Anderson explains three types of welfare regimes:
1. The Liberal Model: the key characteristics are that it is means-tested (which
means that your eligibility for social/welfare benefits is tied to some
qualification related to your level of income or assets, you must be fairly
poor to be eligible for benefits), low decommodification, not generous, abject
2. Corporatist/Continental Model: key characteristics include a male
breadwinner model (family based, specific gender roles because it is based
on catholic history), pensions are based on a long period of contributing to
the pension system over time, benefits distributed on a cash basis- rather
than providing things like free daycare, there would be a cash benefit that
would enable the mother to stay at home. The system could be generous but
also is fragmented. Some groups have a high level of benefit generosity;
with other it is fairly low (fairly fragmented).
3. Social Democratic Model: characteristics are universal access, need-based,
egalitarian, they may provide services instead of cash (ie. Providing daycare
to allow women to be in the workforce- not based on traditional gender
Commodification vs. decommodification: commodification is making something into
a commodity- it’s value is dependent on market exchange, supply and demand, and
it can be bought and sold and does not depend on a social relationship.
Pre-commodified period– you have either individual land holders that produce for
themselves, then you see early capitalism and labour becomes commodified.
There are liberals who believe that commodification is freeing the individual from
the bounds of these different social relationships. They do not feel that
commodification is a bad thing, and the market is a good thing.
Conservatives in this early period were attached to elements of the pre-
commodification view of society. Conservatives were in favour of remnants of
corporatist and semi-feudal organization, the connection between the individual
and the church, etc.
A lot of the early welfare state comes from Catholic social reform, the Bismarck-ian
state trying to head off socialism but also to make him “subjects” loyal to his regime.
Part of the post-war settlement and imbedded liberalism- there are pillars of the
immediate post war era that make some of these welfare regimes possible:
The underlying factors are American hegemony and the consensus in the post-war
era that welfare of individuals is a state responsibility, industrial capitalism has not
expanded far beyond its poor and most of the peripheries are producing only
primary products at this time. It is also a period of reconstruction, leading to
relatively easy economic growth.
There is a crisis in the early 70s that undermines all of these things and exposes the
tensions that underlie some of the welfare regimes at the time, particularly those
where radical socialists had not been tamed. This is definitely evident in the case of
the UK, who after this crisis period switches from some of the aspects of this regime
to closer to the liberal model
Koehane thought Type A economies would go towards protectionism, but they
moved toward integration instead. This could be due to memories of WWII, because
one of the causes was European countries being in isolation from one another with
The post-industrial era (Esping-Anderson’s second piece): there are challenges to all
of these welfare models. He adds an additional twist to the take on welfare regime
by saying each of those regimes has a different basis of support for how people
derive their welfare. Liberal welfare regimes depend on the market for individual
welfare, continental regimes rely on family, and social democratic regimes rely a lot
on the state to provide welfare.
^Reasons for these changes could be changing gender roles (human capital of
women is equal or surpasses men in some areas), changes in family structure (gay
marriage, the nuclear family). Esping-Anderson is saying that in post-industrial
society, welfare regimes provide not just relief for people in the economy, but some
of this is investments in knowledge economy (education, early childhood cognitive
development, health care, etc. which allows more participation in the knowledge
economy.) He is saying these welfare regimes must adjust to changing realities.
If you have a knowledge based economy which requires a lot of education, that
requires a lot of investment in individuals, inequalities that manifest early on will
continue to affect indivudals throughout their life. The knowledge economy also
produces a new set of winners (those with a high level of knowledge in human
capital who get high wages) and losers (low human capital, low wages) and this is
something that once a person does on this path it is harder to move up, because
human capital is developed early on in life. Relying on the market for individual
welfare leaves out those who are less well off.