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Concept Structures, Functional Equivalence and the East Asian Welfare State Discussion: An Application of Set ‑Theory in Comparative Social Policy

Sophia Seung-yoon Lee 1

1이화여자대학교

Accredited

ABSTRACT

After the introduction of the three welfare regimes by Esping ‑Andersen, discussion on ‘other’ types of welfare regimes was facilitated and the scholarly focus on East Asian economic development gradually shifted to the East Asian welfare states discussion from the late 1990s. Literature on East Asian welfare states increased our understanding on the characteristics of not only the East Asian welfare state as a whole but also of each country in the region. However, compared the attention given to developing variables and empirical studies on the East Asian welfare state, less attention has been given to the concept of East Asian welfare states. Recognizing the limitation in developing comparable variables without a concept analysis of the East Asian welfare states, this study highlights the importance of conceptualization and concept analysis in comparative social policy studies. This paper first discusses on the concepts, conceptualization and on the use of set theory in comparative social policy research. Next, the study argues the validity of ‘functional equivalence’ in the East Asian welfare state studies and critically reviews the existing literature. Lastly, this paper suggests how the concept of functional equivalence can be successfully employed for the East Asian welfare states studies with a concept analysis and by applying a set theory including the fuzzy set theory.

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* References for papers published after 2022 are currently being built.