The transformation of service structures has been an important topic in international comparative social policy research for several years. Due to neoliberal-oriented policy discourses, government budget crises, demographic shifts, as well as new discourses on and demand for civil participation in society and the restructuring of the relationship of state and private responsibility, considerable reorganisation processes are taking place. Indeed, there has now been a move beyond the typology of welfare state regimes developed by Esping-Andersen. Since the 1990s, in the framework of theoretical approaches relating to the transformation of services, concepts for the classification of welfare states in terms of the way in which it shapes the provision of care provided formally as services and the informal care delivered within the family have also been developed (Langan and Ostner, 1991; Lewis, 1992; Orloff, 1993; Lewis and Ostner, 1994; Anttonen and Sipilä, 1996; Hanssen, 1997; Knijn and Kremer, 1997; Land and Lewis, 1998; Mósesdóttir, 2000; Siim, 2000; Pfau-Effinger, 2001; Rostgaard, 2002). In this context, it has been argued that the way in which care work is organised is based on gender-specific roles and tasks, and that it influences life opportunities in a gender-specific way. Concepts such as ‘care policies’, ‘gender policies’ or ‘care regimes’ express the distribution of care tasks among private and public actors, and the access to social services, financial aid, or other social welfare rights of those in need of care, or family members providing care, is varied. Moreover, it is stressed that such factors affect the life opportunities of women (Daly and Lewis, 1998; Ungerson, 2000).
A main aim of cross-national analyses of the restructuring of social care services was to identify changes of the ‘welfare mix’, the degree to which the family, the state, the market, and the non-profit sector contribute to the provision of social care (Evers and Olk, 1996). By comparing welfare-state policies in relation to care, it has been possible to identify national care profiles, corresponding to the different dominating actors in the delivery of social services in each case (see Anttonen and Sipilä, 1996), or European care regimes, corresponding to the amount of freedom of choice between paid work and care (Rostgaard, 2002). In addition, familial-versus-individualistic strategies have been discerned (Daatland, 1992, 2001; Daatland and Herlofson, 2003).