Ideas and Policy Change

  • Peter Taylor-Gooby


What is the role of ideas in policy change? This issue has attracted increasing attention in recent years, in areas including welfare state reform, for a number of reasons. First, in the field of the welfare state, governments face major challenges on a number of fronts, leading to a redirection of welfare policies, often understood in terms of recalibration, retrenchment and recommodification (for example, Pierson, 2001 p.455). This leads to policy innovation, and thus to debate about the best way forward. Secondly, the new developments appear to involve a different politics of welfare than that which drove the expansion of the trente glorieuses. The growth of welfare states in the post-war period could be understood in terms of the interests of major population groups with needs for pensions, health care and other benefits, obvious in relation to working class groups, but also spanning the middle class, so that expansion could be easily understood within a power resources approach (e.g. Korpi, 1983). Other approaches emphasized the detail of politics and the role of social democratic parties in government (Huber and Stephens, 2001; Castles and McKinlay, 1979). A rational choice analysis added the interests identified by various actors within the welfare state (Goodin, Le Grand and Dryzek, 1987). The expansion of welfare could also be linked to the interests of capital in securing a trained, efficient work-force and expanding national consumption (Gough, 1979).


Labour Market Welfare State Comparative Politics Social Democratic Party Advocacy Coalition 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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