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and about the double tendency towards homogenization

or differentiation of social policies in the

European Community.

Welfare and well-being are dynamic concepts

that have gained new meanings and content in

postindustrial society. In a globalized world with a

growing gap between rich and poor countries, one

of the main challenges is still how to satisfy basic

welfare reforms welfare reforms


human rights. Even though poverty worldwide is

diminishing, the gap between and within different

countries is at the same time widening. Globalization

has sparked a new debate about human

rights to basic resources and about the capability

and responsibility of the international community

to contribute to satisfying peoples’ needs.

Globalization and migration have exacerbated

the struggle about privatization of welfare and

the political debate about the need for structural

reform between left and right. Welfare has until

recently been connected primarily to the nationstate,

and it is a major challenge to rethink social

politics from a transnational and multicultural

perspective. One controversial question is whether

the public sector is a barrier or a potential for

economic development. Another question is what

the future role of the state, market, and family

should be in the restructuring of the welfare state.

Finally, European integration has raised an important

debate about the possibility and desirability

of a transnational governance of welfare.


welfare rights

– see rights.

welfare state

This system of national welfare provision is about

the satisfaction of basic human needs, provided

through the market, the state or the family. The

classical dimensions of welfare are related both to

material needs and to recognition and respect, and

the concept of welfare has increasingly become

multidimensional. In western Europe, the expansion

of the welfare state was connected to the

growth of capitalist markets and the organization

of workers, and the role of the state in the provision

of welfare has been at the center of political

conflicts between left and right. Welfare has been

tied to the nation-state, and globalization has

strengthened the role of the market vis-a`-vis the

state. This has sparked political debates about the

need for structural reforms and about the future

role of the welfare state in non-western countries.

The influential approach of Go¨sta Andersen in The

Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990) and the

power resource school have identified the driving

forces and key factors in the evolution of the different

welfare regimes, including benefits, labor market

participation, and the general social structure.

The main conclusion was that “politics matters,”

and the key factor differentiating between the

social-democratic, the conservative-corporate, and

the liberal models is de-commodification, that

is, to what extent the state makes individuals

independent of the market forces.

Andersen’s framework has become a standard

reference, but it has been criticized for a normative

bias in favor of the Nordic model. Feminist

scholarship has criticized the neglect of the role of

the family and care work in the provision of welfare.

The argument is that de-commodification

has a male-bias that makes it unable to explain

variations in family forms and in the position of

women in western societies, because individuals

are already commodified as wage workers. It is

also seen as a problem that the model does not

include services, in the form of childcare. The high

degree of “reproduction going public” in the

Nordic countries is the basis for Helga Maria Hernes’s

concept in the Welfare State and Women Power

(1987) of “women-friendliness,” defined as states

which “would not force harder choices on women

than on men, or permit unjust treatment on the

basis of sex.” Comparative welfare research has

recently become more attentive to the gender dimension,

understood as the extent to which the

state takes responsibility for care work.

The criticism of the three worlds of welfare has

been followed by the construction of different

typologies. Jane Lewis and Ilona Ostner, in Gender

and the Evolution of the European Social Policies (1994),

differentiated between strong, medium, and weak

male-breadwinner models on the basis of the division

between work and care, for example

women’s access to paid work and social benefits,

family wage, and the distribution of unpaid work.

They conclude that Germany and Britain both

have strong male-breadwinner models, France a

medium one, and the Scandinavian countries

have weak male-breadwinner models.

Another approach suggests that culture, norms,

and values play a key role in explaining variations

in welfare-state models and women’s position in

society. The individualization of benefits is also

seen as an important factor in typologies that

indicates whether social rights are tied to the

family, to the husband as head of the family, or

to individuals, and whether women have benefits

as citizens, employees, wives, or mothers.

There is a growing interest in new welfare typologies

that can explain different forms of inequality

related, for example to gender, class, and

ethnicity. One example is Fiona Williams, who in

“Race/ethnicity, Gender and Class in Welfare

States” (1995, Social Politics), has developed a typology

that integrates gender and welfare regimes

with migration regimes. The focus is on the crossnational

interaction of three key concepts: nation,

welfare rights welfare state


work, and family. Another example is Walter

Korpi, who, in his article “Faces of Inequality”

(2000, Social Politics), developed a typology that

integrates a class and a gender perspective. Mainly

economic resources determine class inequality,

while gender inequality (“gendered agency inequality”)

is determined by democratic politics,

access to higher education, and labor market participation.

He concludes that class inequality has

been more resistant than gender inequality.

With the development towards multicultural

societies, ethnicity tends to become an independent

factor explaining differentiation in relation to

welfare and scholars have identified different ethnicity

regimes. This is followed by an academic

debate about intersectionality between key categories

such as gender, class, and ethnicity. Inequality

has many faces and the intersection

between different forms of inequality challenges

existing typologies based primarily upon one form

of domination. The argument is, first, that domination

is contextual, and, second, that the same

mechanisms cannot explain different forms of inequality,

because different dimensions may be

crucial for reproduction of inequality in relation

to gender, class, and ethnicity, respectively.

Welfare and the welfare state are not universal

but dynamic concepts that have new meanings

and content in postindustrial societies. In a globalized

world with growing immigration, one of

the new challenges is to understand how different

forms of inequality interact. Welfare has

until recently been connected primarily to the

nation-state, and the welfare state needs to be

rethought from a transnational and multicultural

perspective. BIRTE SI IM


This notion has two main, and to some extent

overlapping, connotations. First, the fate of the

world is seen to be following the West, politically,

economically, and culturally. Second, there is the

connotation that this process is on the whole a

healthy and progressive development, since the

“West is best.” In this sense, the concept of westernization

is connected to Orientalism. Both of

these ideas can be found in mainstream nineteenth-

century social thought, in the writings of

Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel, Karl Marx, John

Stuart Mill, August Comte, Herbert Spencer, and

others. The central idea was well expressed by

Marx when he said – with Britain in mind – that

“the country that is more developed industrially

only shows, to the less developed, the image of its

own future” (“Preface” to the first edition of

volume I, Capital, 1867). Western-style industrialism

was the future of the whole world. In the

1950s and 1960s this idea found powerful form

in theories of modernization. Modernity was

equated with its western forms; to modernize

was to westernize. Such seemed to be the inevitable

destiny of all the so-called “developing societies”

of the Third World, those that had not yet

adopted western institutions and practices.

For a time the western model seemed to compete

with an Eastern one, the one provided by the

Soviet-style economies and societies of eastern

Europe (even though, being based on Marxist

ideology, this model could as legitimately claim

western origin). With the collapse of the communist

regimes of eastern Europe after 1989, it has

come to be widely argued that only the western

model of liberal democracy, based on a market

economy, now has any appeal in the world. In a

widely discussed book The End of History and the Last

Man (1992), the American political theorist Francis

Fukuyama pronounced “the end of history,” basically

a restatement of the westernization philosophy

that the endpoint of humanity’s evolution lay

in the adoption of the liberal democratic ideas

and institutions of the modern West. Having

seen off its ideological competitors in Communism

and fascism, the West – identified with its

liberal capitalist form – had won.

Such views have been contested in a number of

ways. Directly opposing Fukuyama was the claim

of his fellow countryman Samuel Huntington, in

The Clash of Civilizations and the Remaking of World

Order (1996), that, far from ideological conflict

being over, we were faced with a future conflict

over incompatible civilizations, in which ideologies

based on the great religions of the world –

Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Confucianism –

would compete across deep “fault lines” in the

emerging world order (or disorder). In this vision,

the West would be thrown increasingly on the

defensive as it struggled to hold its own against

the challenge of Islamic fundamentalism and the

developing power of Asian giants such as China

and India.

At a deeper level, westernization was challenged

by a group of historians and social theorists

who took issue with its whole philosophy of

history as deeply “Eurocentric.” Western modernity,

they argued, was only one form of modernity,

and not necessarily the one towards which the

rest of the world was tending. Chinese, Indian,

and Islamic civilization had all in the past made

major contributions to modernity – in commerce,

science, and technology – and could be expected

westernization westernization


to build on these in elaborating their own distinctive

types of modernity in the coming years. If the

future of the world was a global civilization, it

would not necessarily, as many have assumed,

carry a western stamp. There had been periods of

non-western globalization before the rise of the

West; the current form drew on these earlier tendencies

and any emerging global order would bear

the marks of non-western as much as western

culture. As the more than 2 billion people of India

and China move into an increasingly dynamic

phase of economic development, it seems increasingly

unlikely that western dominance – the main

fact of world history for the last two to three

centuries – will be the principle of the future, or

that “westernization” will at all accurately describe

the resulting patterns of change.


white-collar crime

– see crime.

Williams, Raymond (1921–1988)

A critic of culture and society, and an emblematic

figure in the cultural turn and the postwar

British left, Williams made decisive contributions

to the study of politics, literature, and culture.

He studied at Trinity College, Cambridge,

and then worked in adult education. Between

1974 and 1983 he was Professor of Drama at

Cambridge University. His approach studied culture

as part of a historically structured, whole way

of life and investigated the concomitant structures

of feeling that operate as principles of social

inclusion and exclusion in Culture and Society

(1958) and The Long Revolution (1961). Writing

against the grain of empiricism and also against

the “practical criticism” of Frank Leavis (1895–

1978) at Cambridge University, who had condemned

the decline and standardization of culture

resulting from mass society, Williams made

a virtue of interdisciplinarity and theorizing

about culture, long before either became fashionable.

Among the soi-disant theorists of the working

class and class struggle that formed the New Reasoner

circle and, later, the New Left Review, Williams

was comparatively rare in having impeccable proletarian


Eventually, his preferred term to distinguish his

approach was cultural materialism, by which he

meant the study of all forms of signification

within the actual context of their production, as

in Marxism and Literature (1977). The approach was

indebted to the neo-Marxian position, in particular

with reference to the central importance of

history and social class in politics, culture, and

communication. But Williams overhauled the

Marxist engine, by breaking decisively with the

base–superstructure model of vulgar Marxism

and determining to approach local traditions of

culture in the terms of ordinary cultural categories

and representations.

Through a series of studies on mass communications,

literature, the city, ecology, political revitalization,

globalization, North–South relations,

and socio-cultural forecasting, Williams tried to

release the concept of culture from elitist overtones

and relocate it at the heart of political,

social, and cultural enquiry. His cultural materialism

is inclusive, combative in that it draws attention

to a selective tradition in culture, and

stringent in holding that culture is one of the

central resources in social, political, and economic

reconstruction. CHRIS ROJEK

Wilson, William Julius (1935– )

A professor of sociology at Harvard University

since 1996, Wilson has developed a widely influential

and controversial body of work on race and

ethnicity, and urban poverty, in the United States.

His first major book, The Declining Significance of

Race (1978), argued that civil rights legislation of

the 1960s caused racism to recede, but that classbased

forces and economic stratification among

African-Americans had created a new disadvantage

for them. Fleeing poor black neighborhoods,

middle-class blacks took with them jobs, social

capital, and other resources that had previously

stabilized black neighborhoods and communities.

Widely disparaged by critics for prematurely

dismissing racism and race-based factors in accounting

for American racial inequality, Wilson

responded a few years later with his magnum

opus, The Truly Disadvantaged (1987). This work

argued that substantial structural changes to the

economic and social system of poor black neighborhoods

were responsible for the plight of the

African-American urban poor and producing a

new kind of “social isolation.” The most important

of these dynamics was the “spatial mismatch” of

jobs and neighborhoods, in which black urban

neighborhoods were becoming increasingly “jobless

ghettos” with a growing black “underclass.”

As a consequence of these economic shifts, Wilson

argued, black youths in these areas lacked appropriate

role models in the conventional economy.

He thus reintroduced a cultural explanation to

understanding black poverty, which generated

a storm of controversy. He also argued that

the lack of jobs for black men and their rising

white-collar crime Wilson, William Julius (1935– )


incarceration rates led to a shortage of “marriageable”

black men. This contributed to the growth

of female-headed, single-parent families in the

African-American community. These ideas – spatial

mismatch of jobs and neighborhoods, the role of

cultural factors, the decline of marriageable men,

and, more generally, the role of neighborhood

factors in shaping social and economic outcomes –

generated a vast outpouring of research into urban

sociology, demography, race and ethnicity, and

social stratification, as well as becoming a central

element in policy debates over the sources and

consequences of urban poverty. Wilson continued

to expand on these themes in later works, most

notably When Work Disappears (1996).


Wirth, Louis (1897–1952)

Born in Germany, Wirth studied at the University

of Chicago, where he became associated with Chicago

sociology during the 1930s. While mostly

recognized for his classic, if not brilliant, article

“Urbanism as a Way of Life,” in the American Journal

of Sociology (1938), he also produced pioneering

work on the question of minorities in American

cities. His first book, The Ghetto (1928), was based

upon the research involving Jewish immigrants in

Chicago that he undertook for his doctoral dissertation.

As already apparent in The Ghetto, Wirth

involved himself in his subjects of investigation

as both researcher and activist. In his subsequent

studies on Jewish immigrants and black Americans

in American cities, along with his involvement

with anti-discrimination committees and

the civil rights movement, Wirth, as a Jewish e´migre

´ intellectual, identified with his subjects as

strangers while avoiding dissolving himself into

that identification. His work on minorities in

“Morale and Minority Groups” (1941) and “The

Problem of Minority Groups” (1945), for example,

displays considerable subtlety and sophistication

on the question of identity and difference, when

the decisive, if not dominant, trend of thought

was to put the question of minorities as a question

of assimilation. With respect to minorities, Wirth

argued (1945) that

it is not the specific characteristics, therefore,

whether racial or ethnic, that mark a people as a

minority but the relationship of their group to some

other group in society in which they live. The same

characteristics may at one time and under one set of

circumstances serve as marks of dominant status

and at another time and under another set of

circumstances symbolize identification with a


Clearly, Wirth was well aware of what we would

much later identify as traps of both essentialism

and constructionism. Yet, his brilliant essay on

urbanism became the defining moment of his

oeuvre. While his definition of cities as relatively

heterogeneous, sizable, and dense settlements

drew much criticism, even from Lewis Mumford

who otherwise appreciated and admired Wirth,

the essay displays equal subtlety and sophistication

to his work on minorities and shows how

closely he read both Georg Simmel and Max



As the practice or the production of malign or

beneficial magic, witchcraft has an enduring

place in the western, and in much of the nonwestern,

imagination of the dynamics of esoteric

and exotic powers. Its practitioners and producers,

putative or real, range from the magus and

the sorcerer to the devil-worshipper and the demonically

possessed. They are as ancient as Medea

and as contemporary as the benign neopagans of

Tanya Luhrmann’s Professions of the Witch’s Craft

(1989). They might acquire their special capacities

through training or inheritance or some combination

of both. They might or might not be aware

that they possess the capacities that a certain

ordeal or process of divination or coerced confession

reveals them to have exercised. Institutionalized

churches can and often do incorporate

magical technologies into their standard cultus,

but they are uniformly hostile to the sorcerer or

witch who asserts or represents a challenge to

their ritual authority. The western history of the

persecution of such challenges is as inseparable

from the history of the Catholic inquisitions as

from the structural conflicts and fractures that

mark the ascendance of the bourgeoisie in the

modernizing states of Europe and the Puritan colonies

of North America. Hugh Trevor-Roper’s The

European Witch-Craze of the Sixteenth and Seventeenth

Century (1969) and Kai Ericson’s Wayward Puritans

(1966) offer valuable sociological perspectives on

the latter.

E. E. Evans-Pritchard (1902–73) put forward the

seminal anthropological analysis of witchcraft in

Witchcraft, Oracles and Magic Among the Azande

(1937). He argued for two theses. The first was

that the appeal to witchcraft does not amount to

a confused or superstitious attempt at the proper

causal explanation of events but instead to the

deployment of a supplementary idiom that facilitates

the resolution of the existential significance

of events – and, in the Zande case, especially of

Wirth, Louis (1897–1952) witchcraft


unfortunate events. His second thesis was that the

same idiom functions as an effective means of

enforcement of norms of civility and neighborliness

whose persistent violation would – in the

Zande case – lead almost inevitably to accusations

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