Ideology, welfare mix and the production of welfare : a comparative study of child daycare policies in Britain and Hong Kong
This is a study of the inter-relationship between welfare ideology, welfare mix and the production of welfare. It has been hypothesized that the welfare ideology of a state is likely to affect its choice of welfare mix and the kind of social relations produced in the wider society. In this study, normative theories of the welfare state were reformulated by an analytical framework into theoretical models of the welfare state as pre-test patterns for comparison with practical policies under study. Child daycare provisions in Britain and Hong Kong were chosen as the data to test the hypothesis. A multiple-case-embedded design was used in organizing this comparative study. It was found that practising ideologies are more predictive than idealized ideologies of state social policy. It was also found that state social policy in the realm of child daycare was related to its ideology : state ideology affects the choice of a mix of welfare sectors and the form welfare is organised in the production of social relations in the two societies studied. Nevertheless, the inter-relationship between state ideology, welfare mix and welfare production is constrained by three intervening variables. They are bureau-professional autonomy, interplay between opposing ideologies and flexibility of ideology in the interpretation of state welfare because of a changing environment. When the findings were examined from another perspective, welfare sector and welfare production were seen to carry ideological meanings. This implies that a transaction of welfare goods and services is not only a transaction of material or tangible social services, but it is also an ideological transaction of different social principles which underlie the welfare sectors. This has led to the development of a theory of the ideological production of welfare as an explanation of the relationship between ideology and welfare sectors in the division of care and welfare responsibilities in a society. Based on this theory, the limitations of instrumental theories about the welfare mix were discussed. In conclusion, in the light of wider social and economic changes within capitalism, an integrative strategy concerning the welfare mix in particular and welfare in general has been proposed which duly recognizes the importance of ideology in maintaining social relations in a society as well as the social context which these social relations underlie.