About this book
The book is part of the 5-volume series “German Social Policy”, a unique multidisciplinary approach to the history of German social policy written by the doyens of their respective disciplines. The volumes expound the contribution of the German tradition to the rise of social policy in the Western world in the 19th and 20th centuries. Germany pioneered modern social policy in the 19th century when Bismarck introduced social insurance. After the Second World War, Germany’s Social Market Economy became a model of social integration. The volumes cover the history of ideas (volume 1), the legal and political history before and after 1945 (volumes 2 and 3), the German Democratic Republic (1949-1990) and the impact of German reunification (1990) (volume 4). Volume 5 embeds the German case in a major comparative study of European welfare states, complemented by a study of the USA and the Soviet Union. The volumes also yield insights into general theoretical issues of social policy beyond the empirical case of Germany. Each volume has an introduction by the editor who summarizes the contribution made by the volumes and looks into the future of German social policy.
In the burgeoning literature on welfare regimes and typologies, this comparative study offers a stimulating new perspective. Kaufmann, the doyen of the sociology of social policy in Germany, emphasizes norms, culture and history, in contrast to political economy approaches. Comparing Britain, Sweden, France and Germany, Kaufmann highlights the „idiosyncrasy” of each welfare state: countries are compared with regard to their state traditions and the relationship between state and civil society; their national “social questions”; their economic systems, including the unions and labour law; social security and redistribution; and their personal social services and education. The socio-cultural approach enables Kaufmann to show that not all modern states are welfare states. Some are just „capitalism“ (the USA), others are „socialism“ (the former Soviet Union). In this light, the (essentially North-West European) welfare state is portrayed as a third way between capitalism and socialism.