Handbooks of Research on International Political Economy series
Edited by Leila Simona Talani and Simon McMahon
Chapter 9: Closed memberships in a mobile world? Welfare states, welfare regimes and international migration
Contemporary liberal democracies have a difficult relationship with geographical mobility. They willingly participate in a variety of increasingly open and strongly interconnected economic markets, able to move an unprecedented amount of people, capital, goods and services (as well as ideas) across the globe. They are also, however, segmentally differentiated power structures, defined by a given territory inhabited by a given population. They are willing to interfere heavily in the activities carried out within their territory (and outside of it) to preserve and develop a distinctive, territorialised, communitarian lifestyle, a – no matter how difficult to define – national ‘community’ or ‘culture’. Welfare states are a consolidated and enriched form of nation state. They claim that membership in such a community also implies the willingness to provide mutual aid to fellow members in need. They claim responsibility for the economic and social welfare of their citizens, each of whom is deemed worthy of the basic provisions necessary for the good life. They expect loyalty and commitment from their citizens (and denizens) because they provide the population with clusters of life-chances distributed independently from market consideration. Welfare states’ goods and services are allocated according to a solidary logic, in order to shield the inhabitants of their territories from the risks and dangers that arise precisely from the very same (increasingly global) economic markets.
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