This introduction presents an overview of key concepts discussed in the subsequent chapters of this book. The book outlines the comparative social policy as a field of historical and contemporary study that has thus led to a greater understanding of the range of international welfare regimes and their meanings, usefully illustrating how the development of welfare has been shaped by different economic and employment imperatives as well as the gendered divisions of welfare systems. Developments in sociological theory have been similarly influential for the conceptualization of family life, with the work of mainstream theorists such as Giddens, Beck and Beck and Gernsheim making important contributions to the analysis of intimate relationships in late modernity and illustrating that analysis of families cannot be undertaken in isolation from other social, cultural and political institutions and processes.