The Impact of Institutional Marketization, Fragmentation and Equalization on Social Structure
Since the 1990s, and increasingly so, European welfare states have been undergoing fundamental change. The analysis presented in this book shows that these changes may be interpreted as a paradigmatic shift of European societies, since fundamental concepts, principles and societal effects of welfare institutions have been redefined, reset and rearranged. Given contemporary institutional, economic, social and cultural changes, current post-industrial forms of welfare states are characterised by a very different logic than that which prevailed some 30 years ago. This logic, while being ambivalent in certain areas, brings about highly modified societies.This book provides an understanding and identification of different facets of this paradigmatic shift, in order to contribute to the bigger picture of welfare state and societal change. Rather than referring to persisting differences in welfare state regimes, which are in parts identified here also, it directs its attention towards new and cross-country and cross-regime developments and tensions. The interpretations of welfare state change found in other studies, thereby, are enhanced in original ways. The theoretically-based empirical analysis of welfare state change departs from the generally accepted insight that mature democratic welfare states depend on social cohesion. The central question of this study, therefore, is how emancipatory past and present welfare state regulations are. The results show that the mechanisms, visibility and lines of social inequality differ significantly after three decades of partly fundamental reforms characterized by marketization, fragmentation and equalisation of welfare provision.