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date: 20 November 2019

(p. xxiii) Preface

(p. xxiii) Preface

In November of 2006, Dominic Byatt of Oxford University Press approached me about editing a volume on the welfare state for the Oxford Handbook series. He was imagining a ‘genuinely agenda‐setting book’ that would encompass political science, sociology, social policy, and economics. It should be the ‘most authoritative survey and critique of work on the welfare state’. A tall order indeed! The welfare state as a subject of study is as colossal as the giants of Want, Disease, Ignorance, Squalor, and Idleness it is charged with eradicating (Beveridge 1942: pt. 7). A colleague and I had just finished assembling and writing an introduction to a reference collection of classic reprints that covered the post‐World War II history of welfare state theory, and it weighed in at over 2,000 pages (Leibfried and Mau 2008 a, b). There was an abundance of cutting‐edge new work on the welfare state, both empirical and theoretical, and it was this that Dominic wanted to see addressed in a Handbook of less than 950 pages…Daunting as it was, I took up his challenge. After all, welfare states engage over half of state expenditures in the OECD world—and Beveridge's five giants are still alive and kicking.

My first move was to enlist Frank Castles, who is not only an expert on the welfare states and on the states in toto of many nations, large and small, but also a talented editor, known for making the work of scholars from diverse lands available to a wider audience. The two of us then set out to build a compatible but multifaceted team: Jane Lewis, who represents the best of the English social policy and social history tradition and could also, on occasion, remind us that gender matters; Herbert Obinger, one of Germany's leading young scholars in comparative political economy, with whom Frank and I both had a long history of collaboration (see, for example Obinger et al. 2005 a); and Chris Pierson, a political theorist with a wide‐angle view and an appreciation for the national diversity of welfare state agendas, with whom Frank had successfully co‐edited a teaching text on the welfare state (Pierson and Castles 2000, rev. 2006). The five of us come from diverse disciplines, but we share the conviction that an understanding of the development of the welfare state and its contemporary manifestations can only be achieved by considering the similarities and differences among nations. The Oxford Handbook of the Welfare State, which we have worked on together for nearly three years, bears the hallmarks of its progenitors: it covers a broad field, and its approach is interdisciplinary and, above all, comparative.

A number of staff members from both the Transformations of the State Collaborative Research Centre (TranState) and the Centre for Social Policy Research at the (p. xxiv) University of Bremen have played essential roles in bringing this project to fruition. Monika Sniegs of TranState managed the website, the manuscripts, and the editorial team—especially me. She and I were aided by our Bremen student assistants Jessica Haase, Stefanie Henneke and Lisa Adler. Peter Boy and Markus Modzelewski set up the website that allowed us and the contributors to stay abreast of each other's progress and bring some consistency and cohesion to the volume. Jana Wagner, Hendrik Steven, Matthias Schuchard, and Melike Wulfgramm turned the forty‐eight individual chapter bibliographies into a single, consistent, verified, and much more useful bibliography at the end of the Handbook. Susan Gaines helped with revisions of the introductory material and provided translations of bibliographic entries, and Wolfgang Zimmermann ( designed the jumble of stamps on the dust jacket. Janis Vossiek undertook the time‐consuming citation analysis that we relied on in Chapter 1.

On the part of all five editors, I wish to thank the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (German Research Foundation) and the University of Bremen, which provide funding for TranState and its international collaborations. This book has set the stage for The Oxford Handbook on Transformations of the State, which will examine how the evolution from closed to open economies in the decades since World War II has affected the defining characteristics of developed Western nation states (Leibfried and Zürn 2005; Hurrelmann et al. 2008).

We have many other debts of gratitude. Thanks go to Jacobs University Bremen for financing a sabbatical semester for Herbert Obinger. The Hanse Institute for Advanced Studies provided us with a meeting place in northern Germany and made it possible for editors from Australia, the United Kingdom, and Germany to engage in something more than virtual encounters. The Hanse, located in the city of Delmenhorst and directed first by Gerhard Roth and now by Reto Weiler, granted generous fellowships to Frank Castles and Chris Pierson, allowing them to dedicate time to editing and rewriting the articles—no trivial task, given that many of the authors were writing in English as a second language.

We are, of course, grateful to all of the scholars whose contributions made this volume possible, with particular thanks to Bernhard Ebbinghaus, Marius Busemeyer, and Rita Nikolai who stepped in to supply missing chapters at very short notice, and to Maurizio Ferrera and John Stephens, who helped us to revise and improve some of the chapters. Axel West Pedersen also gave generously of his time and expertise in a moment of need. We also wish to thank the Schwaneberger Verlag, which gave us access to their Michel stamp catalogues when we were gathering material for the book cover, as well as the many colleagues who directed us to stamps with welfare state themes, particularly Klaus Petersen, for the Scandinavian stamps, and Barbara Darimont, who researched and hunted down the Chinese stamps for us. Obtaining copyright permissions from postal authorities and artists would have been impossible without the help of Dongmei Liu and Yang-Yifan at the Max Planck Institute for Welfare Law in Munich, and Jianan Xu of the China Post Group's Department of International Cooperation; Claire Moulin-Doos, for the French stamps; Aurelia Ciacchi, for the Italian ones; and Ayumi and Hisashi Fukawa, for the Japanese (p. xxv) stamps. Last, but far from least, we would like to thank our editors at Oxford University Press. The commissioning editor, Dominic Byatt, not only generated the idea for this project, but also provided practical support and encouragement as we framed the chapters, solicited authors, and began editing. The copy editor, Tom Chandler, did a phenomenal job of removing the many inconsistencies and glitches that plagued this multi‐country, multi‐author, and multi‐editor behemoth, and did so with great courtesy and good humour.

In recent years, as nations around the world have struggled to contain or shrink their welfare states—at a time when we need, more than ever, to analyse the effects of reform on social rights and equality—academic interest in the welfare state seems to have waned or become more abstract and theoretical in the disciplines that traditionally addressed its nuts and bolts. To varying degrees in different countries, empirical and institutional economists have turned to other issues or have been marginalized, historians have lost interest, sociologists have gone post‐modern, legal scholars have found better‐funded research topics, and, in Britain, the home of the study of ‘social administration’, social policy has often had to fight for its place in the academy. The studies described in this volume defy this trend, employing a wide range of approaches, from just about every discipline in the social sciences.

T. H. Marshall noted in 1949 that ‘in the twentieth century, citizenship and the capitalist class system have been at war’ (1964 b: 84). He also noted that ‘the wars of religion have been succeeded by the wars of social doctrine’ (1964c: 61). These wars rage on. In this volume, we have covered the major lines of conflict since the 1970s and identified many of the challenges for the future—challenges that we hope policy makers and scholars of the welfare state will meet head on. In the twenty‐first century, citizenship finds itself at war with both national and global capitalist systems, and it is likely to take sustained national and international efforts to level the playing field and keep Beveridge's giants at bay.