Previoues Entries

Previoues Entries

Plenary Session (abstract) (SSSP 128th Biannual Conference)


Social Reform Thought and the Present Age: Questioning the Intellectual Foundations of Social Policies

Chair:Koichi HIRAOKA(Ochanomizu University)

Kaori KATADA(Hosei University)


In recent years, there has been growing interest in the various streams of social reform thought that have affected the historical development of social policies and contributed to the intellectual foundations of welfare states. This plenary session will focus on several of these streams originating in both the West and Japan, to examine their influence on the formation of modern welfare state systems and to discuss their contemporary significance.


1.Concepts of “the Social” and “the Economic” in the History of Social Policy Ideas in France

                     Takuji TANAKA(Hitotsubashi University)

Recent social policies in developed countries are, at first sight, converging towards “workfare” under the pressures of globalization and post-industrial economy. The present study demonstrates a different orientation toward reforms by referring to the history of the French welfare state and recent welfare reforms in France. This orientation shows that the idea of “social solidarity” (solidarité sociale) plays an important role in recent French reforms, which shift toward universalization of an individual’s “free choices” rather than workfare.

 In the first and second sections, this study describes the history of the formation of the French welfare state. It focuses on the philosophical conflicts between the idea of the primacy of industrial development (the economic) and the primacy of mutual aid (the social) in social policy from the 19th century to the first half of the 20th century. Solidarism proposed by Leon Bourgeois at the end of the 19th century reconciled these conflicts. In the 1940s, Pierre Laroque provided a basic institutional framework for the French welfare state under the influence of this ideology of solidarism.

In the third section, the present study examines contemporary welfare reforms in France from a philosophical perspective. In the 1980s, “social exclusion” became a major issue in the discussions of social policy. The French government introduced new family policies and inclusion policies, aiming to assure an individual’s “free choices” in terms of life-style and work-life balance. This study demonstrates that the traditional ideology of “social solidarity” played an important role in introducing these new welfare policies.


2.Karl Polanyi and Ideas on Social Reform Re-examined: Controversial Basis of the Market Society

Midori WAKAMORI (OsakaCityUniversity)

 It has become commonplace that Karl Polanyi is more relevant today than ever. Certainly the obvious consequences of neoliberal policies since the 1970s -when Ronald Regan in the United States and Margaret Thatcher in the UK launched a systematic attack on the legacy of Keynes=Beverage Welfare State- are increasing market instabilities reminiscent of the 1930s, as well as a growing loss of democratic control.

In The Great Transformation, of which first-edition was published in 1944, Polanyi shows his interpretation of the history of industrial society in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when there occurred great crises and upheaval of the market society; the Great Recession, severe unemployment problems, financial instability, crisis of democracy, economic nationalism, fascism, and great wars. The lasting interest and insights in the book extend beyond an analysis of the nineteenth century market society. Polanyi has important insights to understand the very context of the rise and fall of the Welfare State.

 One of his theses is that during economic crisis, economic liberalism requires “social reform” for the market. Free-market liberalism promotes various projects of “planning for competitive market system” for creating an environment in which private interests can flourish. In case of “emergency”, it can become openly anti-democratic in defense of the market and encourages a strong state authority that has the capacity to resist “spontaneous” social protection movements in the product, labor, and financial markets. According to Polanyi, completely unfettered markets lacking social control were destructive of the livelihood of common people and eventually generated social reactions that sought to intervene in the market system to secure a more secure society.


3. Economic and Social Factors in the History of Ideology and Thought in Social Policy in Japan

                        Kingo TAMAI (Aichi Gakuin University)

 One century has passed since the Society on the Study of Social Policy was established in order to conduct social reform in Japan. During this period, a great many ideologies and thoughts appeared in the Society. Currently, we should ask how the pattern of social reform has changed, and also how the core principle has been maintained without drastic changes.

  Social policy plays two roles in relation to the market. First, it establishes regulations and rules such as labor policy so as to promote the market mechanism. We can say that this function of social policy works as an economic factor. Second, it deals with the problems caused by the market mechanism. This means the social dimension of social policy.

  When we reflect on Japanese social policy history on ideology and thought, it is possible to find cases of both harmonization and conflict of economic and social factors in each period. The balance of the two factors in policymaking determines decisions on the content of social policy.

  We would like to propose a new approach to the ideology and thought of social policy in the 21st century, highlighting the dynamism of economic and social factors in social policy through a historical perspective from the pre-war period to the present.


[Special Lecture] Labor and the Double Movement

 Sanford M. Jacoby(University of California, Los Angeles)

  In his brilliant book, The Great Transformation, Karl Polanyi developed the idea of the double movement: the recurring swings between market expansion, spontaneous opposition, and subsequent market regulation. My talk is an historical overview of market regulation—economic and social–during the 20th century. It emphasizes the contributions of the modern state, policy experts, and labor unions. Then it turns to a development that Polanyi could not foresee: the neoliberal countermovement of the past thirty years. It’s had a devastating effect on American unions. Now they are struggling to reinvent their movement.

Will there be a reaction to the current neoliberal hegemony?  What can the labor movement contribute if this occurs? These are great but unanswered questions. While the talk emphasizes the United States, hopefully it has some relevance to other nations.