Industrial Welfare and the State: Nation and City Reconsidered

Abstract Industrial welfare history presents important challenges to developmental state theories in “late” industrialization. This article expands the debate by examining how nation-states create statutory welfare by addressing institutional variety beyond markets. It is simplistic to argue linear growth of national welfare or of states autonomously regulating markets to achieve risk-mitigation. I contend that welfare institutions emerge from the state’s essential conflict and collaboration with various alternate institutions in cities and regions. Using histories of Europe, India, and Karnataka, I propose a place-based, work-based, and work-place based welfare typology evolving at differential rates. Although economic imperatives exist to expand local risk-pools, it is precisely the alternate institutional diversity that makes late industrial nation-states unable or unwilling to do so. This results in institutionally “thin,” top-down industrial welfare. Ultimately, theories that overly depend on histories of small nations, homogenous nations, or city-states, provide weak tests of the economics of industrial welfare.

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