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Book review on "Social Policy and Change in East Asia", edited by James Lee, James Midgley and Yapeng Zhu, in The China Journal

27 Feb 2015


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  • Title: Book Review on "Social Policy and Changes in East Asia", edited by James Lee, James Midgley and Yapeng Zhu
  • Author(S): Sarah Cook
  • Date: 12 Jan 2015
  • Publication: The China Journal, No. 73, 2015

This collection of papers, initially presented at a 2011 workshop, adds to a growing body of literature on social policy in East Asia. The late 1990s saw an increasing interest in comparative social policy applied to this region, as the Asian financial crisis called into question the sustainability and social inclusiveness of rapid economic growth. An excellent introductory chapter by James Lee, James Midgley and Yapeng Zhu provides an overview of relevant debates with reference to the dominant welfare state literature and typologies: it highlights the limits of Eurocentric and ethnocentric approaches that often fail “to recognise and respect cultural diversity”, suggesting that the growing body of work being produced by scholars in the region, such as those presented here, may provide an alternative to the “Western normative ideals that dominate mainstream social policy scholarship” (p. 6). Complementing the Introduction, Chapter 2 by James Midgley provides a valuable discussion of the nature and role of social policy and social development during periods of turbulence, pointing to the need for social policy analysis to understand and address economic volatility better (p.18).

Sarah Cook is UNRISD Director.

For further information on the book review, please click here.