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Neo-liberal Convergence of European Welfare State Policies? The case of sickness benefit schemes

Heijndijk, Sanne (2010) Neo-liberal Convergence of European Welfare State Policies? The case of sickness benefit schemes.

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Abstract:The debate on welfare state change, its scope and its direction, is far from settled. This thesis aims at contributing to the debate and does so by providing a description and analysis of the development of the sickness benefit schemes in three European countries (the United Kingdom, the Netherlands and Sweden) over a period of 35 years (from 1975 to 2009) to see whether a process of (neo-liberal) convergence of policy goals (that is, paradigm convergence) can be observed. An answer to the central research question is sought through a qualitative longitudinal cross-country comparison that is executed on the basis of legal texts, of (accompanying) governmental documents, and of scientific literature. Sub-questions that are guiding the research project are as follows: How have the English respectively Dutch respectively Swedish sickness benefits schemes developed over a period of 35 years? Can common trends be detected in (paradigms underlying) these developments? In which direction(s) do these common trends point? And how do these common trends relate to the current theoretical and conceptual framework? On the basis of the descriptions and analyses provided, it is found that some paradigm convergence has indeed taken place in the field of sickness benefits and that this convergence has clustered foremost around the neo-liberal ideals of activation and individualisation. It is also stressed, however, that it is traces of (neo-liberal) convergence that are identified rather than an „absolute‟ process of ideational convergence, thus questioning the „true‟ applicability of the concept of neo-liberalism
Item Type:Essay (Bachelor)
Faculty:BMS: Behavioural, Management and Social Sciences
Subject:88 social and public administration
Programme:European Studies BSc (56627)
Link to this item:http://purl.utwente.nl/essays/60306
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