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Changing coalitions in social policy reforms: the politics of new social needs and demands


Häusermann, S (2006). Changing coalitions in social policy reforms: the politics of new social needs and demands. Journal of European Social Policy, 16(1):5-21.

Abstract

Recent reforms in Swiss and German old-age insurance and family policy included elements directed at both ‘old’ and ‘new’ social needs. ‘Old risks’, such as old age and unemployment, are mainly covered by income-related insurance schemes for standard industrial breadwinners. By contrast, ‘new’ needs, such as infrastructure to reconcile work and care or insurance of atypical employment biographies, concern mainly ‘new’ risk groups, such as young people or women. While reforms directed at ‘old risks’ mainly focused on cost containment, ‘new’ social policies aimed at gender equality or the increase of labour-market participation. In this article, I argue that the emergence of modernizing policies covering new social needs leads to new conflict lines in social policy making, which differ from the distributional class conflict. Instead, I expect value coalitions and cross-class alliances on these policies. In addition, I argue that in a consensus-democratic institutional context, such new alliances form more easily. These hypotheses are tested with reference to recent reforms in pension and family policy in Germany and Switzerland. Coalition dynamics are examined by means of process analysis and multidimensional scaling. Empirical evidence largely confirms the hypotheses, but also points out the need for further differentiation of policies covering new social needs.

Key Words: family policy • Germany • new politics • new social risks • pension policy • Switzerland

Abstract

Recent reforms in Swiss and German old-age insurance and family policy included elements directed at both ‘old’ and ‘new’ social needs. ‘Old risks’, such as old age and unemployment, are mainly covered by income-related insurance schemes for standard industrial breadwinners. By contrast, ‘new’ needs, such as infrastructure to reconcile work and care or insurance of atypical employment biographies, concern mainly ‘new’ risk groups, such as young people or women. While reforms directed at ‘old risks’ mainly focused on cost containment, ‘new’ social policies aimed at gender equality or the increase of labour-market participation. In this article, I argue that the emergence of modernizing policies covering new social needs leads to new conflict lines in social policy making, which differ from the distributional class conflict. Instead, I expect value coalitions and cross-class alliances on these policies. In addition, I argue that in a consensus-democratic institutional context, such new alliances form more easily. These hypotheses are tested with reference to recent reforms in pension and family policy in Germany and Switzerland. Coalition dynamics are examined by means of process analysis and multidimensional scaling. Empirical evidence largely confirms the hypotheses, but also points out the need for further differentiation of policies covering new social needs.

Key Words: family policy • Germany • new politics • new social risks • pension policy • Switzerland

Citations

15 citations in Web of Science®
28 citations in Scopus®
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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Political Science
Dewey Decimal Classification:320 Political science
Language:English
Date:2006
Deposited On:20 Mar 2009 12:13
Last Modified:05 Apr 2016 12:28
Publisher:Sage Publications
ISSN:0958-9287
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1177/0958928706059827

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