The Future of the Welfare State

The Future of the Welfare State

Social Policy Attitudes and Social Capital in Europe

Edited by Heikki Ervasti, Jørgen Goul Andersen, Torben Fridberg and Kristen Ringdal

At a time when welfare states in Europe are coming under increasing pressure from both growing demand and, in some countries, severe financial austerity measures, the attitudes of ordinary people and European social cohesion are much debated. Using data from the European Social Survey, these empirical analyses examine welfare state attitudes and draw conclusions for the future. Theoretically the book is linked to analyses of altering social risks, policy challenges, policy changes and policy performance of the European welfare states. The analyses in the book explore a variety of individual and macro-level determinants of welfare policy attitudes ranging from socio-economic factors to religiosity, but a special emphasis is laid on solidarity, social cohesion and social capital among European nations.

Chapter 1: Introduction

Heikki Ervasti, Jørgen Goul Andersen and Kristen Ringdal

Subjects: politics and public policy, european politics and policy, social policy and sociology, comparative social policy, welfare states


Heikki Ervasti, Jørgen Goul Andersen and Kristen Ringdal This book is about the attitudes to the welfare state of ordinary people in almost thirty European countries. It addresses the subject from a comparative perspective, exploiting the significantly improved availability of data provided by the 2008 European Social Survey (ESS). A comparative perspective enables us to target our interest not only at the variations between individuals and social groups, but also at the differences between countries. Indeed, we seek to combine analyses at the micro level (variations between individuals, groups, etc.) with analyses at the macro level (between countries). With regard to country differences, the book embodies the notion of different welfare models or ‘welfare regimes’ across Europe (in a slightly geographically enlarged format), but also examines other country differences. The book is linked to analyses of policy challenges and policy change in modern welfare state theory and addresses, inter alia, new social risks and perceptions of risk, challenges linked to changing family structures, and the more general impact of immigration and heterogeneity. In so doing, the book will hopefully be of relevance not only to scholars and others interested in research on political attitudes or welfare attitudes, but also to those interested in the changes in modern welfare policy. Public attitudes to welfare is not an entirely new field of research, and national surveys on welfare state attitudes were first conducted in the 1970s. Nevertheless, in a complete overview of English-language literature concerning public support for the welfare state,...