This paper reviews some theoretical and empirical literature written on welfare state development in post-communist Eastern Europe in the light of the theories and approaches that have been developed to study affluent capitalist democracies. The aim of this discussion is to critically reassess the old welfare state theories, definitions and approaches and their implications regarding the study of post-communist Eastern Europe.

The paper ends with the conclusion that the exclusion of ‘communist’ countries for more than twenty years from welfare state theorising has created an empirical and theoretical gap. This creates fresh challenges for welfare state research and calls for a new paradigm. It is evident that the not so well explored Eastern European region with regards to social policy research suggests that it is necessary not only to test already existing welfare state theories, definitions, typologies and approaches on these countries, but also to advance them.

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