The European Social Model under construction: Modernising welfare policies in Sweden and Great Britain during the time of the EU's Lisbon Agenda

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Title: The European Social Model under construction: Modernising welfare policies in Sweden and Great Britain during the time of the EU's Lisbon Agenda
Authors: Briechle, Eva
Thesis advisor: Prof. Dr. Armin Schäfer
Thesis referee: Prof. Dr. Andrea Lenschow
Abstract: The aim of this PhD thesis was to illustrate the modernisation of Swedish and British welfare policies during the time of the EU’s Lisbon Agenda which aimed at reconciling social protection with labour market integration. Specifically it should be illustrated if both countries managed to cope with the weaknesses and shortcomings that European policy recommendations identified in relation to unemployment benefits, social assistance schemes, parental leave systems and childcare subsidies. The attempt to grasp which role (European) ‘ideas’ were able to play in national welfare modernisation processes between 1998-2008 constituted a key consideration in this regard. By using a case-study design it is worked out that Sweden and Great Britain followed their European recommendations; not completely but significantly. Yet, causal connections can hardly be established and the overall development doesn’t constitute a ‘top-down’ implementation of EU recommendations. In both cases a discourse analysis reveals that the realization of European ideas rather depends on party-political preferences and the arrangement of national discourses. It is shown that ideas become powerful in puzzling situations when existing discourses are challenged and in line with the work of authors like Jørgen Goul Anderssen or Vivien A. Schmidt this thesis confirms the importance of an actor-centred perspective for explaining welfare policies. Considering Sweden as a socialdemocratic and Great Britain as a liberal welfare regime the PhD thesis aims as well at contributing to a better understanding of how policy reforms affected these two differing regime types. For the time during the Lisbon Agenda it holds that they moved ‘closer’ to each other and that welfare modernisation can be described as an exercise of making the social democratic welfare regime a better social democratic welfare regime and of making the liberal welfare regime a better liberal welfare regime. Yet, in 2008 the international financial crisis hit the EU and two years later the Lisbon Strategy was replaced by the EU 2020 Strategy. The PhD thesis takes these developments into account, illustrates the major changes in Swedish and British welfare policies and compares them to the research period. Rather untypical developments in Sweden lead to the conclusion that there might be a certain ‘carousel-effect’ which seems to kind of reallocate ‘problems’ and ‘solutions’ between the different welfare regimes. For Great Britain the conclusion is drawn, that the conservative coalition government triggered a transformation process which wasn’t first and foremost caused by the international financial crisis but represented more of a political choice to make the liberal welfare regime more liberal.
URL: https://repositorium.ub.uni-osnabrueck.de/handle/urn:nbn:de:gbv:700-201912102448
Subject Keywords: European Social Model; Welfare Policies; Lisbon Strategy; Sweden; Great Britain; Ideas; Welfare Regimes
Issue Date: 10-Dec-2019
License name: Attribution 3.0 Germany
License url: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/de/
Type of publication: Dissertation oder Habilitation [doctoralThesis]
Appears in Collections:FB01 - E-Dissertationen

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