Applying ideal types in long-term care analysis

Contribution to Christian Aspalter’s ‘Ideal types in comparative social policy’


Christian Aspalter




C. Aspalter (ed.) Ideal types in comparative social policy. London: Routledge.


Leichsenring, K. (2021) Applying ideal types in long-term care analysis, pp. 187-206 in C. Aspalter (ed.) Ideal types in comparative social policy. London: Routledge.


This book, edited by Christian Aspalter, introduces readers to the world of ideal types within the readings of Max Weber by giving a theoretical understanding of ideal types, as well as applying the development of ideal types to an array of social policy arenas. The 21st century has seen the development of welfare regime analysis marked by two differing strands: real-typical welfare regime analyses and ideal-typical welfare regime analysis; the latter focusing on the formation, development, and application of ideal types in general comparative social policy. Designed to provide new theoretical and practical frameworks, as well as updated in-depth developments of ideal-typical welfare regime theory, this book shows how Weber’s method of setting up and checking against ‘ideal types’ can be used in a wide variety of policy areas, such as welfare state system comparison, comparative social and economic development, health policy, mental health policy, health care system analysis, long-term care development, gender policy, employment policy, education policy, and so forth.

Kai Leichsenring contributed a chapter in which he tries to apply ideal types to long-term care analysis and emerging systems in a global context. The original typology of Esping-Andersen’s welfare regimes has been criticized not only for being ‘gender-blind’ but it has also been challenged for being ‘care-blind’. This may partly be due to the historical context in which the Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism were published. Apart from a few frontrunner countries (Nordic countries, The Netherlands) long-term care as a social risk that calls for support in the perspective of social solidarity had only just started to emerge in public discourse and social policy making during the late 1980s. The ensuing decades have seen a wide range of policy measures, often piecemeal and hardly coordinated, in the attempt to address the consequences of rising numbers of older people in need of long-term care and the alleged decrease of unpaid care work, mainly provided in families by women. In reality, even the increasing share of female labor-market participation across ‘welfare regimes’ – promoting a certain degree of convergence, at least in the context of general EU policies – hardly reduced the amount of unpaid care work due to rising and more demanding needs in long-term care. Still, the professionalisation of hitherto ‘informal’ family care and – in the context of New Public Management and neo-liberal approaches to social policy – also led to new types of ‘welfare mixes’ across Europe and Northern America, with rising evidence and awareness that these developments will spread across the globe. Scholarly attempts to frame and explain these advances by constructing ‘care regimes’ are discussed in this chapter. Based on these deliberations the second part of the chapter examines the idiosyncratic categories that need to be considered for ‘ideal types’ of long-term care regimes in a global perspective. A related typology of global long-term care regimes is finally presented and discussed alongside selected issues to be considered in further research.


Books & contributions to books