Chapter 1 introduces the main themes and the ambitions of the book, its background assumptions, the aims, and the means and methods employed to achieve the aims. The ambition of the book is to develop a narrative on the emergence of social policies in Brazil, China, India, and South Africa that avoids measuring those developments against the European model welfare states, such as the German or the British welfare state, in a manner that implicates upfront that social policies in the global South lag behind the policies of Northern welfare states. The contributors to this edited volume set out to present national social policies from a national perspective, with an emphasis on the ideational foundations of the policies pursued, all Western and international influences notwithstanding. A final chapter seeks to compare social policies across the four countries and in relation to European model welfare states: Can we identify ideas, values, or concepts that specifically characterise the social policies in Brazil, China, India, and South Africa, and – to some extent – Southern welfare?