The Small Welfare State
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The Small Welfare State

Rethinking Welfare in the US, Japan, and South Korea

Edited by Jae-jin Yang

In a period of rapid change for welfare states around the world, this insightful book offers a comparative study of three historically small welfare states: the US, Japan, and South Korea. Featuring contributions from international distinguished scholars, this book looks beyond the larger European welfare states to unpack the many common political and institutional characteristics that have constrained welfare state development in industrialized democracies.
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Chapter 4: Civic movements and the detour to welfare state building in South Korea

Yeong-Soon Kim


This chapter analyzes the role of civic movements in the development of the Korean welfare state. In Korea, both labor unions and employers have been largely indifferent towards social welfare, and leftist parties have traditionally been weak. In this situation, civic groups rooted in the country’s democratization movements have greatly contributed to the development of Korea’s welfare state. Civic movement groups have forged pro-welfare coalitions with progressive presidents, created policy alternatives, and mobilized public support in order to overcome their organizational weaknesses. Civic organizations using soft power resources have made remarkable achievements in a diverse range of social policy areas, including the National Basic Livelihood Security Act.

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