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Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Impact of Globalization on the traditional functioning of welfare state regime: Appreciating the strategy of Lifelong learning in Denmark.

The paper looks at the impact of globalization on the traditional functioning of the welfare state provisions, contextualizing the case of Denmark. What is of more interest is to know how we can better understand the strategy of Lifelong learning within the context of varying nature of welfare state theories/models in Denmark. Some scholars have argued that traditional Welfare State is dying as a result of the increased pressures of recent economic globalization and the international diffusion of neo-liberal ideology (Schwartz 1994 in Campbell & Hall: 2006). For instance, the process of Globalization (economic competitiveness) has influenced the change in educational policies based on more competition, minimizing the larger social good (welfare) believed to be gained out of education policies. This also means a completely new situation for traditional welfare states’, for which reforms are inevitable. With economic competitiveness across the globe, many States are cutting down their social/public expenditures; the study investigates the case of welfare state reforms in Denmark. Globalization has catered to the rise of a 'neo-liberal welfare reform policy' (Griffin 1999: 432); the State is no longer guaranteeing the security of its citizens or the general good of the community (aim of the Social Democratic welfare model). Constructing ‘the good life’ has become an individual responsibility demanding reflexivity and skills. Thus the State is in the process to unite economic efficiency and social good, thorough the policy of Lifelong learning. How can this objective be achieved?

Education policy making had always been exclusively a State agenda, the influence of global economic competitiveness on the state opens up a lot of questions regarding this (Kwiek, M in Epstein, D: 2008). The most poignant being why and how does this global economic changes exert this influence. The answer is sought in the changing world context of globalization which has challenged and changed much of the old world order. Globalization, in its economic and neo-liberal dimension (the existing world order), has led to a paradigm shift in the arena of welfare state provision across the globe. In order to analyze the above this paper attempts to answer the following research question:
Why and how does Globalization impact the traditional functioning of Welfare state, what are its consequences on the strategy of lifelong learning in Denmark?

The impact of globalization has created a sense of intellectual consolidation in the above conception of decline in welfare state. Thus, the understanding of welfare state across the globe has been stratified on the basis of the variations by the State in social provision. These variations are not clear-cut distinctions (not linear), but are clustered into different regime types (Esping-Andersen, 1990). To understand this transitory process, this study applies Esping-Andersen’s three models of welfare state regimes to address the research question. His typology arranges welfare states into three clusters (Liberal, Conservative and Social Welfare clusters), "each organized around its own discrete logic of organization, stratification, and societal integration" (Esping-Andersen 1990, 3). These three groups may be distinguished by the similarity of their social policy agendas and coverage for education, healthcare, unemployment, and old-age benefits; by a likeness in the manner and extent to which their welfare policies "decommodify." This theoretical model is relevant because it aptly locates the changing nature of welfare states in the present globalized scenario especially in the Nordic and Scandinavian countries. It clearly brings out the complexities and the fuzziness in the functioning of the welfare state due the challenges of globalization (i.e the post industrial developments).

The accelerating scope witnessed by Denmark’s response to challenges posed by globalization, it is a matter of concern today for sustaining its traditional welfare state functioning. Welfare reforms proposed by the policy on Denmark in the global economy (2006) provide its immediate influence of the process of globalization. As a consequence of this effect Denmark’s strategy for adopting lifelong learning policy (2007) consolidates the impact of globalization and the need for reforming its welfare policies according to the increasing demand of the global economic processes. Thus, globalization has altered the nature of traditional functioning of the welfare state in Denmark. However, I would like to emphasize that only the nature of welfare state functioning has changed, but not in the welfare state in its entirety. Analyzing the OECD policy brief it is more evident that the member countries have mandated themselves to policy suggestions towards addressing the challenges due to global economic competition. The case study of Denmark where the policy of lifelong learning (LLL) was analyzed provides bases for an immediate response to the OECD policy suggestions. The strategies of LLL report (2007) can be understood as a one of the reform initiative as a consequence of pressing need to meet the challenges as a result of globalization.
Implications of the Study:

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