The welfare state: A fundamental dimension of modern government

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Abstract

What, in fact, is the Welfare State? This article traces the emergence of the welfare state as a specific mode of government, describing its distinctive rationality as well as its characteristic forms, functions and effects. It identifies five sectors of welfare governance, the relations between them, and the various forms these take in different times and places. It discusses the contradictory commitments that shape welfare state practices and the problems associated with these practices and contradictions. It situates welfare state government within a long-term account of the changing relations between the social and the economic spheres. And it argues that the welfare state ought to be understood as a “normal social fact”—an essential (though constantly contested) part of the social and economic organization of modern capitalist societies.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-364
Number of pages38
JournalEuropean Journal of Sociology
Volume55
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2015

Keywords

  • welfare state
  • governmentality
  • capitalism
  • neo-liberalism
  • moral economy
  • normal social fact

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