The three worlds of welfare capitalism

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6 August 2015

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In as much as the difference between United States and Sweden is apparent, empirical studies have shown that such differences are embedded on social models. To conceptualize this statement, Jens (2010) succinctly argues that the main difference between these countries is on gross and net social spending. He adds that the difference has been brought by unique agendas and policies. Citing gross and net social expenditure for 2005 in USA and Sweden, he shows that USA’s expenditure on health insurance schemes and social programs pension is far much bigger than Sweden’s. This difference has also been highlighted in the study by Esping-Andersen (1990) when he argued that by assessing welfare state typology America is residual or liberal welfare State with high expenditure compared to other European countries such as Sweden. The reason attributed to this is the liberal approach given to policies. Another perspective of assessing the difference between these countries is to borrow the research Greg (2001) terms as the Politics of the Welfare State. While assessing the state of welfare between Canada, Sweden and United States, the main difference between Sweden and USA is the public sector on social provision. According to the author, America has a comprehensive commercial welfare and employment-based welfare for its citizens compared to Sweden and notable case is the universal social protection and gendering the welfare state as a recent initiative started by the government.

Question 2: The three dimensions of power

           Lukes (2010) understands the dimension of power from three distinct definitions. The first dimension augurs well with pluralist ideologist where power is understood from American democratic theory. In this case, the master has authority to modify the behaviors of his/her master when it comes to decision making. A practical example in this case is the recent situation in Zimbabwe where Mugabe as the president decides on almost every policy. The second dimension is related to the American democratic theory but in this case, power is applied with a view to influencing the agenda—a case study of the Obamacare to influence the subject. While shaping the agenda is the cornerstone according to Lukes (2010), second dimension enables masters to prevent subjects from airing any conflicting ideologies. The third dimension provided is the situation where the master (those in power) changes their subjects (powerless) to an extent that the powerless blindly obeys the master. While this dimension reflects the Scottish independence referendum and how masters attempted to influence subject to vote, Lukes (2010) adds that in this dimension, power is exercised in polite but assertive way whereby the master does not coerces to pass the agenda.


Esping-Andersen, G. (1990) The three worlds of welfare capitalism. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Greg, O. (2001), The Politics of the Welfare State. Canda, Sweden and the United States. Oxford

University Press.

Jens, A. (2010), What the European and American welfare states have in common and where

hey differ: facts and fiction in comparisons of the European Social Model and the UnitedStates: 2010 20: 102 Journal of European Social Policy. DOI:10.1177/0958928709358791.

Steven, L. (2010), Understanding Society: Innovative thinking about social agency and structurein a global world. Retrieved from

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"The three worlds of welfare capitalism" StudyScroll, Aug 6, 2015.

"The three worlds of welfare capitalism" StudyScroll, 6-Aug-2015. [Online]. Available: [Accessed: 7-Jun-2023]

StudyScroll. (2015). The three worlds of welfare capitalism. [Online]. Available at: [Accessed: 7-Jun-2023]

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