25 Years of ‘Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism’

Guest editors: Patrick Emmenegger, Jon Kvist, Paul Marx and Klaus Petersen

Special issue

From Journal of European Social Policy

This special issue reflects on the impact of the seminal work by Gøsta Esping-Andersen, Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. This book is arguably the most influential contribution to comparative welfare state research. It demonstrates that the different historical and political trajectories of capitalist societies produced three distinct types of welfare state, which in turn reflect different political ideologies (liberal, conservative and social democratic).  The work shows us that these three welfare state types have systematically different economic, political and social consequences.  The contributions in this special issue not only assess the impact of Three Worlds on different debates, but also look forward, advancing the debates the work initiated.

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Article details
Patrick Emmenegger, Jon Kvist, Paul Marx, and Klaus Petersen
Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism: The making of a classic
Journal of European Social Policy February 2015 25: 3-13, doi:10.1177/0958928714556966

In this introduction to the special issue, we review the various debates spurred by Esping-Andersen’s The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Tracing its impact since the book’s publication in 1990, we show that Three Worlds continues to be the point of reference for comparative welfare state research. A content analysis of articles in the Journal of European Social Policy citing the book indicates that Three Worlds may even have obtained a paradigmatic status and that its claims and findings are often taken for granted rather than challenged. We conclude that Three Worlds has become a classic that is likely to continue to have a major influence on welfare state research in its next 25 years.



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