Social Policy Analysis: Lifespan Perspective against Suicide by Institutionalist Reductionism

Nearly off to the printer: A small piece, contribution to a book. I had been invited to look at

The Lifespan Perspective in Comparative Social Policy Research: A Critique of Gøsta Esping-Andersen’s Model of Three Welfare States and its Implications for European Comparisons in Social Pedagogy. It is a contribution to the book Social Pedagogy for the Entire Lifespan, edited by Jacob Kornbeck and Niels Rosendal Jensen (published as volume XV in the series Studies in Comparative Social Pedagogies and International Social Work and Social Policy, Europaeischer Hochulverlag in Bremen.

My point in question, as stated in the abstract:

The major interest behind policymaking and policy research is the political system: its critique, maintenance and possibly improvement. People and real life are seen as matter of targeting variables of the system and as such they are – in tendency seen as disruptive factor. There is, however, little interest in real daily life and its contextual meaning as the actual factor that – in its lifespan – determines also the life span of social policy systems.

With the suggested orientation there is surely an important challenge posed in debates of approaches that are in one or a way caught in institutionalism, and – as for instance Esping-Andersen’s work – more oriented towards defending social democratic traditions in policy making than showing academic openness based on political-academic curiosity.


2 pensieri riguardo “Social Policy Analysis: Lifespan Perspective against Suicide by Institutionalist Reductionism

  1. I liked to teach Esping-Andersen’s work because it was so neat and easy for students to understand. It also formed the basis for statistical analysis of macro social welfare data. But in the end it has very little to do with “real daily life and its contextual meaning” as it has never been proved empirically. I tried to do it a number of times and it never worked out.

    "Mi piace"

  2. Yitzhak, thank you for the comment. I think you point on a serious general problem of (social) science – especially today but probably not only today: we aim on understanding and in order to get there we limit what we are going to understand: cutting it off. And we truly understand in this way “more from less”. However, we can see from Norbert Elias’ work that reality works exactly in the opposite direction. As process of civilisation humankind is immersed in increasingly complex life, part of long chains of interaction … – So, yes, sometimes such models are appealing as heuristic means but in the long run there is the danger of being more appalling when it comes real understanding and also to policy making.

    "Mi piace"


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