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This article makes a contribution to the literature on the new politics of the welfare state. Taking the case of home care for the elderly in France, it shows that contestation around this policy has been rooted more in the opposition between different interest groups as regards marketisation than in gender issues. However, in a highly feminised sector, the results of this contestation have had gendered effects. Neither left- nor right-wing governments have sought to halt the process of marketisation; instead, they have replicated the opposition between interest groups and defended the development of different forms of care marketisation, with different, gendered consequences for the valuation of care work.

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The ‘unevenness’ of European capitalism has been well established by Comparative Political Economy (CPE) as central to the origins of the eurozone crisis. The influential ‘growth models’ perspective has shown how the integration of export-led models in the ‘core’ with demand-led models in the periphery has led to the build-up of destructive current and capital account imbalances. However, CPE approaches are limited by their methodological nationalism, which stands in their way of adequately theorising the international dimensions of the crisis. In contrast, recent scholarship on Uneven and Combined Development (U&CD) and the global financial crash is more suited to overcome methodological nationalism, but existing contributions are let down by their lack of mid-range International Political Economy (IPE) concepts and their limited engagement with CPE. The main contribution of this article is to develop a new account of the origins of the eurozone crisis in Portugal and Ireland, by developing a framework that synthesises recent U&CD scholarship on the eurozone crisis and new developments in CPE, namely, the growth models perspective (GMP). This article shows how the GMP provides U&CD with two key mid-range analytical tools, namely the notion of the ‘dominant growth coalition’ (DGC), and a wider conception of European multiplicity. The DGC concept makes it possible for U&CD analysis to account for peripheral politics, while also recognising the wider multiplicity beyond relations of core-periphery dependency. In turn, U&CD makes it possible for the GMP to take the international more seriously in its analysis of the political economy of capitalist diversity.

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The conditional cash transfer programme (CCT) for poor families was terminated in Mexico in 2019. CCTs seek to fight poverty under a social investment logic by promoting the formation of human capital through the compliance of behavioural conditionalities. The programme – the first of its kind introduced at national level – accomplished several achievements and was maintained and developed by three successive federal administrations. As the backbone of anti-poverty policy for more than two decades, its achievements included delivering positive results to a significant proportion of the population; and triggering the expansion of social policy beyond social insurance. As a result, it was emulated by governments across the globe. A programme of these characteristics would have been expected to generate path dependency and policy stability, yet it was swiftly terminated with practically no opposition. This article applies a framework of historical institutionalism to analyse the feedback effects developed during the duration of the programme from the perspectives of beneficiaries, in order to contribute to the explanation of its termination. The research is based on qualitative empirical data from interviews with former beneficiaries. Our findings show that self-undermining mechanisms linked to a ‘hard’ design and implementation of conditionalities counterbalanced the self-reinforcing mechanisms derived from the benefits supplied by the programme, causing beneficiaries to become apathetic towards its continuity or termination. Conclusions yield theoretical insights that might serve to examine policy feedback in similar contexts, as well as lessons for policymakers regarding the design and implementation of social programmes.

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Based on an original data set of early childhood education and care/school closures and reopenings, this article presents a fuzzy-set ideal-type analysis of pandemic childcare-policy responses in 28 European countries and explores the complex empirical variety of these policies across Europe. The analysis shows that European countries cluster into five models, comprising not only the opposite poles of strict closures (public-health approach) or absence of closures (high-risk approach) but also more ‘mixed’ approaches prioritising early childhood education and care/schools’ educational (educational approach) or work–care functions (lenient work–care approach or strict work–care approach). A few countries’ poor fit within these approaches indicates struggles in balancing different, often contradictory, policy goals during COVID-19. The findings reflect how (continued) provision of early childhood education and care/schools became a highly contested issue, especially as the pandemic evolved and public-health concerns were increasingly weighted against the implications for work–care balance and educational outcomes.

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This article addresses inequalities in elderly care from the perspective of family caregivers. By applying an intersectional perspective, we examine the interdependencies of, and interrelations between, the four structural categories of family caregivers’ socio-economic status, gender, ethnicity and employment status, as well as differences in their ability to cope with providing care. We have analysed 20 in-depth semi-structured interviews with family carers in Germany. A high socio-economic status alone did not prove to be sufficient for the good functioning of care arrangements, and ethnicity as a dividing line turned out to be of limited importance. The core result is a typology of five ‘types of coping with care’, three of them with ‘rather successful’ and two with ‘rather precarious’ coping strategies. The types differ in the way difference categories interact. Across all types, it became evident that self-care orientation, self-care action as well as self-determination and control are central for a ‘rather successful’ coping.

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Efforts to better understand what prevents institutions from changing to meet contemporary demands – or what facilitates the evolution of existing constructs to address new challenges – are of particular import and relevance to environmental governance. While the existing literature provides valuable conceptualisation and empirical evaluation of institutional stability and change, the lack of a consistent and holistic typology complicates the evaluation of institutions over time. In this article, we use a combined stability–change typology to assess the dominant modes of institutional change and stability over a multi-decadal timespan across three environmental governance systems – air quality governance in the US and China, and climate governance in the European Union. Across cases, we find that these modes are not mutually exclusive but can occur simultaneously, in concert or in conflict. We also find that observed patterns of change and stability are reflective of the social and political context in which systems operate, as well as the focus of the system itself (for example, localised air quality versus global climate change). Apart from providing a proof-of-concept analysis of institutional change and stability, our findings raise questions about the mechanisms underlying spatial and temporal patterns across identified modes. Indirectly, our findings also further highlight challenges to designing systems both resilient to exogenous stressors and capable of adapting to new situations. Our combined stability–change typology may help to advance understanding of whether and how such balancing has occurred in the past, thus facilitating future efforts to address contemporary challenges.

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The aim of this article is to explore the types of health evidence that diverse actors find most persuasive in a complex policy system. The impact of evidence depends on many factors, including how it is presented and translated to audiences. If diverse actors are to address complex health challenges collectively, it helps if they can draw on evidence that is accessible and meaningful to all. We explore how this can be done through a case study of promoting healthy urban development in the United Kingdom. Based on 132 in-depth interviews with critical actors from across the urban development system, we examined the types of evidence actors find most helpful. While there was some variation by sector, actors revealed a strong preference for narratives with a strong emotional impact, supported by credible evidence. Urban development decision makers are persuaded by both qualitative and quantitative evidence, although there was a slight preference among the public sector for quantitative data. All actors valued evidence on the impact of the urban environment on population health outcomes and the associated costs of ill health. There was, however, a preference among private sector actors for evidence showing economic valuations of health that demonstrate a commercial advantage. Our findings make an important contribution to the evidence-based policy literature by identifying the types of health evidence that appeal to diverse actors in the urban development system. These insights can be used to design evidence that meets the requirements of all actors in a complex system.

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