'CRISIS? WHAT CRISIS?', THE CHANCELLOR OF THE EXCHEQUER was reported to have replied to a question concerning the alleged crisis in sterling. In the case of the welfare state it might seem that the appropriate response would be 'Which crisis? ' since there are several on the menu - fiscal crisis, legitimacy crisis, crisis of ungovernability . Left, Right and Centre have become convinced that there is a crisis. This is after a period of history which had seen an unprecedented rise in the standard of living of the vast majority of the population living in what are normally regarded as welfare states.
in: Government & opposition, Volume 20, p. 287-421
ISSN: 0017-257X (print), 1477-7053 (electronic)
Based on papers presented at a Workshop on the Politics of the Welfare State, sponsored jointly by Government and Opposition and the Department of Government, University of Manchester, held in Manchester, England, Sept. 13-14, 1984.
Welfare is an important concept in the social sciences. It is also challenged and contested not only by alternative concepts but also as a political goal in itself. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, this book takes a fresh look at the continuing relevance of welfare in the context of public policy, recent scholarly developments and changes in popular attitudes and behaviour. The book connects theory and practice. Tracing the conceptʹs background in economics, political science and social policy, the book juxtaposes welfare with newer approaches, such as subjective well-being, capabilities, care, social exclusion and social capital. The links between welfare and political ideas are also elaborated. The welfare state, as it developed historically in Europe and as it is changing in different countries, is given an important place in the analysis. Drawing on a range of empirical work, the book in its final part considers how individuals and groups attain welfare and how this shapes peopleʹs decisions and actions in their everyday lives. -- Back cover.
One of the most significant structural transformations in postwar capitalist democracies has been the rise of the welfare state. The theoretical intent of the traditional sociological and economic inquiry into the welfare state has focused less on trying to understand the welfare state itself and more on to what extent and under what conditions welfare provisions influence social and economic outcomes such as equality, employment, and labor market behavior. Over time, however, scholars have turned toward historical and political factors. G. Esping-Andersen identified three types of welfare state that seem incongruent with the real worlds of welfare capitalism: the "liberal," "conservative/corporatist," and "social democratic." In contrast to the period until the mid-1980s that focused on welfare state expansion, the late 1980s saw the emergence of new streams of literature whose emphasis was on welfare state retrenchment. More recently, scholars have advanced the argument that the globalization of capital markets has effectively increased the power of capital over governments that seek to expand or maintain relatively high levels of social protection and taxation. Another notable trend is the increased intellectual interest in the relation between development and social policy and the growing interface between social policy and economic policy. A question that arises is whether distinctive welfare regimes have the ability to survive, particularly if their norms clash with those of the competition, or Schumpeterian workfare state.