chapter  1
Introduction: Research Problem, Theory, and Methods
Pages 14

RESEARCH PROBLEM During the past few decades scholars and policy makers have witnessed the so-called welfare state crisis. However, responses to this crisis have been quite disparate. In Latin America some countries (most notably Chile) have moved toward a market-oriented type of social policy, others have partially moved toward neoliberal models (such as Argentina and Peru), while still other Latin American countries have retained many of their universalistic features (Brazil, Costa Rica, and Uruguay). These differences have given rise to many questions that motivate this study: Why did countries that come from similar social protection traditions, when confronted with an analogous crisis, respond in different (or even antagonistic) ways? How can we explain the emergence of different strategies of social policy reform? Why did some countries engage in a strategy of retrenchment while others chose to maintain or to expand the universalistic system? Why did some reform attempts fail and others succeed? This book examines these questions relying mainly on the insights derived from the neo-institutionalist and power resources approaches, as well as from the case and area studies literature.