The welfare state: A fundamental dimension of modern government

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jan 2015


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


Dive into the research topics of 'The welfare state: A fundamental dimension of modern government'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this