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Margitta Mätzke, Anneli Anttonen, Peter Brokking and Jana Javornik

There is great diversity in social service arrangements across countries. Some offer broadly accessible social services for their citizens, while in others social transfers and social services are fragmented and not available to everyone. Some care services are targeted or conditional, and therefore selective, while others are universally available. Institutional features such as these shape the extent and the ways in which citizens access care services and affect people’s well-being and way of life. They have a part in defining what role public policies play in societies and how states relate to their subjects. The design of social services is in that sense normatively consequential, and this chapter seeks to identify their overall character and conceptual underpinnings. It explores the core ambitions and policy goals underlying social service designs and identifies differences in normative commitments across policy fields and countries and over time. Ideal-typical policy conceptions are identified, which capture the goals and priorities informing the design of social service institutions. Two evaluative dimensions are then introduced, which map the diversity of public policy conceptions: priorities and core commitments and main orientation and targets. The framework is then put to use by analysing social service developments in three different policy fields and countries: care for older people in Finland, childcare in the UK, and housing services for asylum seekers in Sweden. These illustrations show that political rhetoric often strays far from institutional realities and underscore the need to investigate deeds, rather than words.

Open access

Peter Brokking, Marisol García, Dina Vaiou and Serena Vicari Haddock

The chapter addresses the impact of market-oriented reforms, the financial crisis of 2008 and the resulting austerity measures on housing and neighbourhood services within the already changing trajectories of welfare states. We discuss the shifting boundaries of social groups whose needs remain unanswered and the resulting patterns of exclusion. The focus of the chapter then shifts to the response to these changes, in the form of local initiatives that attempt to address these needs and to further social inclusion. These initiatives highlight the increasingly important role of neighbourhoods and civil society actors in filling the gaps when the welfare state no longer provides basic services or when households can no longer afford to pay for services at market prices. In the final section, challenges for governance are identified and discussed. They include the definition of flexible arrangements between civil society, local public institutions and market actors and a new role of the central state in supporting the social right of access to housing.