Paper $46.95 ISBN: 9789053568088 Published August 2006 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada

The Crisis Imperative

Crisis Rhetoric and Welfare State Reform in Belgium and the Netherlands in the Early 1990s

Sanneke Kuipers

The Crisis Imperative
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Sanneke Kuipers

Distributed for Amsterdam University Press

232 pages | 6-3/4 x 9-1/2 | © 2006
Paper $46.95 ISBN: 9789053568088 Published August 2006 For sale only in the United States, its dependencies, the Philippines, and Canada
Belgium and the Netherlands were perfect examples of the “welfare without work” policy that characterized European welfare states — until a political crisis in both countries during the early 1990s produced a surprising divergence in administration. While Belgium’s government announced major reforms, its social security policy remained relatively resilient. In the Netherlands, however, policymakers implemented unprecedented cutbacks as well as a major overhaul of the disability benefits program. The Crisis Imperative explains this difference as the result of crisis rhetoric—that is, the deliberate construction of a crisis as the imperative for change. It will be a valuable resource for policymakers, researchers, and anyone interested in welfare reform in the United States and abroad.
1.  The Crisis Imperative
1.1  Welfare State Crisis in the Lowlands
1.2  The Puzzle and Its Pieces
1.3  The Theoretical Argument
1.4  Analysis of Reform
1.5  Purpose, Relevance and Limitations
2.  Crisis and Change
2.1  Introduction
2.2  Welfare State Change in Belgium and the Netherlands:  A Tough Nut to Crack
2.3  An Alternative Explanation:  Crises and Institutional Dynamics
2.4  Conclusion
3.  Comparing Social Security Crises:  Design and Method
3.1  Introduction
3.2  Similar Institutional Structures
3.3  Differences
3.4  Similar Predicaments
3.5  Different Outcomes
4.  "Nothing as Permanent as a Temporary Arrangement":  Belgian Policy Making on Unemployment Benefits
4.1  Introduction
4.2  The Challenges of Post-Industrialism in Belgium
4.3  Belgian Politics
4.4  Power in Practice:  Social Partners
4.5  The Evolution of Social Security Policy
4.6  Policy Reactions to Adversity
4.7  Effects of Adjustments;  Ever Deeper Trouble?
4.8  Conclusion
Global Pacts and Crisis Plans
5.1  Introduction
5.2  Contradictions and Crisis
5.3  Actors' Resources and Venues
5.4  Institutional Obstacles to Change
5.5  Conclusion
6.  The Sticky State and the Dutch Disease
6.1  Introduction
6.2  Post-Industrial Challenges to the Dutch Economy and Its Society
6.3  Politics in the Netherlands
6.4  The 'Polder Model':  Industrial Relations and Socio-Economic Policy Making
6.5  The Runaway Social Security System
6.6  The Dutch Disease and Policy Remedies
6.7  Reforms Enforce, Contradictions Reinforced
6.8. Conclusion
7.  Crisis Narratives and Sweeping Reforms
7.1  Introduction
7.2  From Incubation to Open Crisis
7.3  Access to Resources and Venues
7.4  Triggers and Change Agents
7.5  Conclusion
8.  The Politics of Crisis Construction
8.1  Small Steps or Giant Leaps
8.2  The Crisis Stratagem
8.3  Reform in Retrospect:  Much Ado About Nothing?
8.4  On Balance
List of Abbreviations
List of Interview Respondents
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