It is often assumed that socioeconomic policies correspond to specific sets of social values or sociopolitical ideologies. Consequently, discussions in any systematic comparison of many countries over many years, alternative explanations collapse under the weight of such heavy, brittle categories as “socialist�? versus “capitalist�? economies, “collectivist�? versus “individualistic�? ideologies, or even “democratic�? versus “totalitarian�? political systems. However useful they may be in the understanding of other problems, these categories are almost useless in explaining the origins and general development of the welfare state [1976: XII].