Throughout the world, welfare systems have been experiencing a period of unprecedented change. Understanding these changes is difficult, not only because of their diversity, but also because they vary so much from place to place. This volume is a guide to these changes. The first part of the book examines the range of different welfare states around the world, describing the various reforms - such as privatization and commercialization - which have been introduced in recent years. The second part of the book tests the many theoretical perspectives for understanding such social change. The book concludes with an exploration of the future of the welfare state in multicultural societies.