An alternative to the use of the term the welfare state that has the advantage of not assuming or implying that the state necessarily occupies the central role in welfare provision. The roles that social work plays, and how and by whom they are undertaken, will be shaped by the nature of the welfare regime in which it is located. There have been attempts to categorize different welfare regimes using ideal-types, such as:
Corporatist Well-developed welfare provision primarily though the labour market.
Latin Limited welfare provision through churches and charitable foundations.
Residual Underpinned by the ideology that the state should not be the main provider of welfare with an emphasis on provision by families and the market.
Social democratic Universal provision of welfare to all citizens with the state as the main provider and little provision outside the state.
Such ideal-types can be used to analyse the extent to which actual welfare regimes in particular countries conform to or depart from them. Feminists have criticized formulations of ideal-types of regime for not considering the differential impact they may have on men and women and their neglect of the roles played by women in the informal sector of welfare, for example, as carers in households.