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Central Europe in transition: emerging models of welfare and social assistance

Cerami, Alfio (2008): Central Europe in transition: emerging models of welfare and social assistance.


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This paper discusses the emergence of a new model of welfare and social assistance in Central and Eastern Europe. It starts by briefly summarizing the most recent social policy developments occurring in Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia and Slovenia and continues investigating the most urgent reform challenges and adaptational strategies. As argued elsewhere (see Cerami 2006a), the main argument of the paper is that CEECs are moving towards a new world of welfare capitalism, which combines old with new social policy characteristics. A special emphasis in this paper is, however, given to the systems of social assistance, since these represent the last public policy instrument to prevent citizens to fall into extreme poverty. As it will be argued, social assistance schemes did not only play a crucial role in the process of democratic transition cushioning the negative effects of the economic transformation, but they also represent important sources of democratic engineering providing legitimacy to the newly established market-oriented order. A substantial reconsideration in the social policy logic behind their establishment is, however, urgently required.

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