Protestantism and Welfare State Reform: New Forms of Social Work in Western Europe

Research question/goal: 

The project deals with the impact of Protestantism on welfare state reform in Western Europe. The empirical focus is on social service production. The project starts from two observations: First, some researchers assume selective affinities between protestant denominations and the development of welfare state regimes but this relation has empirically not really been tested yet. Second, literature on social services shows that innovative models of welfare production such as case-management became first developed in countries with a protestant religious background, namely in the Scandinavian countries, the United Kingdom and the Netherlands. This is true for child and youth care, care for the elderly, and care for handicapped persons. I wonder if there is a relationship between Protestant individualism and the development of concepts focussing on personal needs for care, counselling, and social participation as realized in the concept of case-management. Thus, the argument is: If religious denomination makes a difference in the profile of social service production, this difference should be found best in the concepts of religious welfare associations in their provision of social services, since these organisations are most committed to the philosophy and norms of their religious beliefs.

Fact sheet

2003 to 2006
Data Sources: 
Special Survey, document analysis, expert interviews
Geographic Space: 
Austria, Denmark, Germany, The Netherlands, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, United Kingdom