Welfare Regimes and Global Cities - A Missing Link in the Comparative Analysis of Welfare States?

The so-called 'welfare modelling business' has been at the heart of comparative social policy analysis since the publication of Esping-Andersen's classic The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism. Debate has advanced considerably since the emergence of this text, be it in terms of expanding the range of countries considered, expanding the scope of policy areas and issues encompassed in typologies or in linking welfare types to both the contextual factors shaping welfare systems and the varying outcomes that social policies seek to address.

However, debate to date has largely proceeded on the basis that coherent nation states exist even in what many view to be an era of globalisation. This assumption was always problematic - as many theorists have acknowledged - but globalisation processes have added a further dimension to this debate. In particular, geographer and sociologists have pointed to the increasing power of global cities that act as co-ordinating hubs for the global economy. Though residing in nation states, these cities have a special status flowing from their central role in the global economy. While theorists have highlighted the social tensions that often exist in these cities themselves, there has been no systematic attempt to explore the implications of these cities for welfare regimes and welfare regime analysis. This paper addresses this under explored issues and argues that an analysis of global cities can not only better inform our understanding of globalisation processes but may also be significant in understanding the development of differing welfare types too.