In his monumental work, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism, Esping-Anderson has provided a definition of the concept of Welfare State. He writes: A common textbook definition of a welfare state is that it involves state responsibility for securing some basic modicum of welfare for its citizens (P.9). The modicum of welfare is a roof over ones head, the ability to feed one and the family and the absence of anxiety about the next meal and the medical bill. A welfare state distinguishes the individual as a labourer from individual as a citizen. This is de-commodification of its citizens. Hence in a genuinely welfare context the daily routine of the activities of the state would be geared towards servicing the welfare needs of the households.
According Esping-Anderson, there are three approaches to social policy and welfare. The Liberal approach to social policy followed in the United States, Canada and Australia view welfare in terms of minimal assistance on the part of the state. The conservative approach to social policy is with minimal state intervention at the same time securing social welfare through alternative structures which state encourages. The German system is vastly conservative. The Social Democratic view to social policy is protectionist in its approach and ensures full employment and access to social welfare irrespective of the merit of the individual but on the contextual need. Norway and Sweden fall to this category.
The influence of religion in the policy framing is indeed a factor. No comparative study can ignore the impact of religion in the formation of the welfare systems in Germany and Ireland. F.Castles recognizes that religion defines both the cultural appropriateness of beliefs and behavior (F. Castles 1998: 53). Ireland being predominantly Catholic, the welfare system is heavily influenced by values centered on families and dignity of human life. Similarly the study of cleavage politics has shown that religious behaviour is very closely associated with a conservative orientation in most countries, whatever social class one belongs to. The waning influence of the Catholic Church in Ireland need not deflect us from its past influence in some of the social policies of Irish Government today. The Church-state conflict can give rise to specific cleavage resulting in the formation of anti-clerical parties. The two countries where there is virtually no anti-clerical tradition: at present are Ireland and Poland. Ireland's welfare policies consequently reflect a Catholic bias. In Germany though there was strong anticlerical sentiments, in the recent history Germans do not bring religion much to the forefront. The Catholics and Protestants in Germany are not contestants politically and there is much absence of the conservation element of religion in German social welfare.
According to Peillon, The Irish Welfare System eludes our classifications. Culture, traditions institutions and geography decide the approach to welfare. Ireland' position in the welfare world is ambiguous. Its de-commodification score is low, placing it in the liberal category. Its score on socialist regime attributes is also low. Similarly it has low scores on liberal attributes and medium scores on conservatism. However Cochrane and Clarke describe Ireland as 'Catholic corporatist' (1993) because of the