chapter  4
41 Pages

The Role of (Welfare) Culture: The State of the Art and an Analytical Grid

To date, ‘this shapeless, seething, and shifting thing that we call culture’ (Archer 1996, XXIV) has not been a key issue in the analysis of social welfare provision. Equally, apart from some strands of economic sociology, markets have not been considered primarily as a cultural phenomenon by the social sciences. The relative neglect of culture also extends to analyses of the institutional management of old age, with the notable exception of cultural gerontology (Powell 2001, Anderson 2003). Having said this, scattered references to the role of culture can be found for each of these fi elds of enquiry. Drawing on basic strands in culture-sensitive social theory and in literatures dealing with cultural aspects of welfare, of markets, and of oldage provision respectively, this chapter delineates the state of the art relevant to the theme of this book. This provides important clues to the building of a conceptual framework for the subsequent investigation; the framework is developed in the fi nal section of this chapter.