East Asian Social Policy research network Conference at the University of Kent, July 2005

The East Asian Social Policy Network held its annual meeting, organised by Yu-Ting Liu and Professor Peter Taylor-Gooby of SSPSSR at the University from 30 June to 1 July. Professor David Melville welcomed 93 academics to the conference, including senior professors from Peking in China, the University of Hong Kong, Chiba, Doshsisha, Hosei, Kwansei Gakuin, Meisei, Hititsubashi, Nihon, Ochanomizu and the University of Tokyo in Japan, Chung-Ang, SungKyunKwan, Kwangwon, Seoul National and Sogang universities in South Korea and Chi-Nan, Soochow, Chung-Cheng, Hsuan-Chang, Meiho and Taipei universities in Taiwan.

The conference discussed and contrasted comparative approaches to social policy as developed in Europe and in East Asia. Professors Yeunwen Ku from Chi-Nan University, Taiwan, Shogo Takegawa from Tokyo University, Japan and Yeon Myung Kim from Chung-Ang University in Korea gave papers in the opening plenary, chaired by Professor Yoshio Maya from Nihon University, Japan. These papers examined the frameworks that have been developed in Western studies, particularly the Esping-Andersen ‘Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism’ approach, and considered its applicability to different East Asian contexts. Professors Michael Hill from Brighton University and Peter Taylor-Gooby from the University of Kent and Dr Nico Siegel, also from the University of Kent, discussed recent developments in the frameworks and also other approaches to comparative work drawing on the analysis of the discourse and paradigms of policy actors. Other sessions considered welfare reform processes and a wide range of social issues, including social care, urban and housing, health pensions, labour market policy, welfare reform processes and social protection. The Network agreed that its next conference should take place in Japan in 2006 and that it would explore the possibility of publishing a journal. The conference was supported by the Daiwa Foundation, the UK Social Policy Association and the School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research.

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