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Birgit Pfau-Effinger (University of Hamburg)

20 October 2016 @ 15:00


  • Past event


20 October 2016
Event Category:

“The Contribution of Cultural Change to Welfare State Change – Tracing Cultural Processes”

at Campus Einaudi (CLE)


The presentation aims to discuss the question: How can cultural change contribute to institutional change in welfare state institutions? The role of ideas for institutional change is increasingly discussed. The focus is usually on the ideas that are relevant in the field of political actors. The presentation introduces a more comprehensive and multi-level theoretical  approach to the role of culture for welfare state change that comprises also cultural change in the broader societal context of the welfare state. It argues that cultural ideas can change relatively independent from the welfare state institutions that we study, either in the population or among the relevant political actors.  It distinguishes two main types of cultural processes by which cultural change can contribute to change in welfare state institutions, a “bottom up” process and a “top-down process”. This theoretical approach offers an innovative contribution to the theoretical debate and research about the relationship between culture and welfare state institutions.

The presentation uses two case studies in order to show the role of cultural change for welfare state change, and it traces the cultural processes that are relevant in this context on the basis of ‘process tracing’. The case studies are based on two cases of paradigm change in family policy in the German welfare state in the mid-199s and in the mid-2000s that contributed to the transformation of the conservative German family policy into a ‘Nordic’ type of family policy.