Kwon insists that even welfare development has a main goal to support the economy of the country in question. Gough and Wood’s book entitled Insecurity and Welfare Regimes (2004) highlights two important assumptions of the “welfare regime” approach: a legitimate state and a pervasive formal labour market. If there is insufficient resource and inadequate bureaucratic support, then welfare regimes are destined to fail. Kwon argues that progress can still be made if these two prerequisites are only partially in place. The third book, by Rieger and Leibfried (2003) deals with the relationship between social policy and economic globalisation. They believe that the latter is limited by the ability of the welfare state to deal with the fluctuations that arise and Kwon agrees with this analysis. Kwon’s article is useful because it brings back the issue of social policy into the center of discussions about big international issues like globalisation and economic development. His choice of these three articles makes it clear that these issues are all inter-connected, so that it is impossible to consider one without thinking about how it affects and is affected by the other. This holistic view results in the interesting conclusion that despite the limiting of policy options for many developing countries by factors such as colonial experiences and globalisation, there is still a need to ensure that developing countries retain sufficient autonomy to ensure that their solutions are decided on their own terms and for their own benefit. The influence of international finance initiatives can be a mixed blessing in this context, because they may stimulate one dimension of this complex equation, but at the expense of another. Kwon cites the experience of East Asia “where national and global constraints on developmental social policy have been effectively overcome in the process of development and democratisation” (p. 472) in order to prove his point, but he does not provide much evidence of exactly how or why this is the case. The main justification for this position that Kwon provides, is the observation that the issue of globalisation is too often approached with the application of theories about culture, rather than with an examination of policies. This is probably due to the fact that most scholars in the literature are writing from a Western (i.e. American or European) perspective, and this means that they are distracted by the very different cultural norms that are common in East Asia. He seems to be implying that this dimension of culture should be relegated to the sidelines, while more attention should be given to the issue of social policy. This sounds like a sensible approach, but on the other hand culture is a very fundamental issue in the relationship between economics, the state and the people, and an analysis of variation between the outcomes of globalisation in different parts of the world without any consideration of culture would surely fail to consider some major factors. Kwon’s comparison of South Korea and Taiwan on the one hand and Hong Kong and Singapore on the other indeed raises interesting questions about different possible responses to globalisation. The fact that they chose different social policy approaches and yet both improved their economies, however, seems to suggest that
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Review Article: Social Policy and Development in Global Context. (Kwon). This article by Huck-ju Kwon is a review of three recently published books on the subject of “Social Policy and Development in Global Context.” The main point of the article is to highlight the relevance of social policy in overcoming the challenges that developing countries face…
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