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2004 | 7 | 103-114

Article title

Welfare state blessed by heavens


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The welfare state could be analysed from the political or institutional perspective, because it raises a question of the scope of citizen's rights as well as a question of limits of cooperation between the free market and the government. This assumption is also true in the context of East Asia. In the present literature devoted to the East Asian welfare state one can find three approaches to this issue. The first one emphasizes the cultural and the structural dissimilarity of East Asia, which affect the shape of social policies in each country in the region. The second one shows the East Asian welfare states as underdeveloped forms of the European models of social policy. The third one tries to demonstrate that each of East Asian countries has its own distinct form of welfare state. In author's opinion, the source of the differences between those approaches lies in the level of analysis. One can look at the East Asia welfare state focusing only on the instruments of social policy, which are sometimes very similar to those developed in Europe and USA or one can analyse the cultural and political background of social policy in East Asia, which is very different from the western experience. If we examine the East Asian welfare state from the political perspective we find out that the purpose for developing the whole system of social policy is to legitimise the existence of the government. The government is obliged to create an environment in which every citizen can independently work out his or her own welfare. Due to these facts, it is hard to draw, from the institutional perspective, a sharp line between the sphere of the free market and the sphere controlled by the state. Each of East Asian states is interested in having a discreet control over its citizen's life and because of it the autonomy of the East Asian market is very often illusive. To sum up, in author's opinion, there is the separate model of the welfare state in East Asia and its particularity comes down from cultural and political specificity of the region.






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  • B. Pielinski, Instytut Polityki Spolecznej, Uniwersytet Warszawski, ul. Nowy Swiat 69, 00-046 Warszawa, Poland


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