1st Edition

Ideal Types in Comparative Social Policy

Edited By Christian Aspalter Copyright 2021
    290 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    290 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book introduces readers to the world of ideal types within the readings of Max Weber by giving a theoretical understanding of ideal types, as well as applying the development of ideal types to an array of social policy arenas.

    The 21st century has seen the development of welfare regime analysis marked by two differing strands: real-typical welfare regime analyses and ideal-typical welfare regime analysis; the latter focusing on the formation, development, and application of ideal types in general comparative social policy. Designed to provide new theoretical and practical frameworks, as well as updated in-depth developments of ideal-typical welfare regime theory, this book shows how Weber’s method of setting up and checking against ‘ideal types’ can be used in a wide variety of policy areas, such as welfare state system comparison, comparative social and economic development, health policy, mental health policy, health care system analysis, gender policy, employment policy, education policy, and so forth.

    The book will be of interest to all scholars and students working in the fields of social policy, including health policy, public policy, political economy, sociology, social work, gender studies, social anthropology, and many more.

    Christian Aspalter

    Part I: Introduction

    1. Introduction: Ideal Types and the Law of Social and Cultural Entropy
    Christian Aspalter

    Part II: Comparative Theory and Background

    2. The Genesis of Comparative Social Policy
    Varvara Lalioti

    3. The Genesis of Welfare Regime Theory
    Martin Seeleib-Kaiser and Jakub Sowula

    4. The Importance of Distinguishing Between Ideal-Typical and Real-Typical Models
    Christian Aspalter

    5. Back to the Origins: The Ideal-Type Methodology in Social Sciences as Developed by Max Weber
    Christian Aspalter

    Part III: Applying Ideal Types in Comparative Theory and Methodology

    6. Ten Worlds of Welfare Regimes: Applying Ideal-Typical Welfare Regimes in Welfare State System Comparison
    Christian Aspalter

    7. From Ideal Types to Health Care System Typologies: Dimensions, Labels, and Country Classifications
    Claus Wendt and Clare Bambra

    8. Applying Ideal Types in Long-Term Care Analysis
    Kai Leichsenring and Günter Stummvoll

    9. Applying Ideal Types in Employment Policy Comparison: The Example of Employer Services
    Deborah Rice

    10. Weberian Ideal Types as a Method to Quantify Qualitative Data in Comparative Welfare State Analysis
    Patricia Frericks, Julia Höppner and Ralf Och

    Part IV: Concluding Part

    11. From Descriptive to Normative Comparative Social Policy: By Way of Conclusion
    Christian Aspalter

    Christian Aspalter


    Christian Aspalter is Professor of Social Policy, Former Founding Head, Social Work and Social Administration Program, Beijing Normal University-Hong Kong Baptist University United International College, Zhuhai, China. His most recent publications include The Routledge Handbook to Welfare State Systems (editor, Routledge, 2017).

    "Congratulations to Christian Aspalter and his colleagues for producing an interesting and incisive overview of welfare typologies and their role in international social policy. Also known as ideal types or welfare regimes, they facilitate the analysis of social policies around the world. The editor and contributors assess their contribution by tracing their historical evolution, explaining their empirical and theoretical dimensions, reviewing their normative relevance and discussing their role in specialized fields like employment policy, health and long-term care. The book makes a sophisticated contribution to the literature and should be widely consulted by anyone interested in international and comparative welfare today."
    James Midgley, Dean Emeritus and Professor of the Graduate School, University of California Berkeley, USA.

    "Ideal-types have been one of the basic tools of comparative social policy for many years. We use ideal-types because they allow us to reduce the complexity of the social world we want to study. But is this reduction of complexity always justified, when and when not? Are ideal-types sometimes mistaken with reality, and what are they, and how are they being used? This book provides some highly sophisticated and much needed thinking on how we use ideal-types to make sense of welfare state differences. An essential reading for everyone involved in comparative social policy research." Giuliano Bonoli, Professor of Social Policy, University of Lausanne, Switzerland.