Researching welfare regimes from below – a comparative study on youth unemployment in Spain and Germany


  • Christoph Gille University of Applied Sciences Düsseldorf
  • Ute Klammer University of Duisburg-Essen


welfare regimes, agency, youth unemployment, Spain, Germany


The analysis of the welfare capitalist regimes of Spain and Germany is used as an example to discuss the yield of welfare state research from below. How do welfare capitalist regimes look when analysed from an agency perspective and on the basis of narrative interviews? After discussing methodological foundations and research design, the article displays six exemplary features of the compared regimes. The results show how dominant political discourses like the one of the “activating” state are rejected when analysed from an actor-based perspective. Additionally, it indicates how even obstinate interpretations stabilise regimes and contribute to the exclusion of the unemployed. Finally, the perspective makes it possible to overcome the methodological nationalism of regime analysis: although different in form, young unemployed people in Spain and Germany are equally affected by the dismantling of social rights and the transformation of welfare capitalism.