Culture and Welfare State
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Culture and Welfare State

Values and Social Policy in Comparative Perspective

Edited by Wim van Oorschot, Michael Opiekla and Birgit Pfau-Effinger

Culture and Welfare State provides comparative studies on the interplay between cultural factors and welfare policies. Starting with an analysis of the historical and cultural foundations of Western European welfare states, reflected in the competing ideologies of liberalism, conservatism and socialism, the book goes on to compare the Western European welfare model to those in North America, Asia and Central and Eastern Europe. Comprehensive and engaging, this volume examines not only the relationships between cultural change and welfare restructuring, taking empirical evidence from policy reforms in contemporary Europe, but also the popular legitimacy of welfare, focusing particularly on the underlying values, beliefs and attitudes of people in European countries.
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Chapter 2: Liberalism, Citizenship and the Welfare State

Julia S. O’Connor and Gillian Robinson


Julia S. O’Connor and Gillian Robinson Liberalism defines a variant of the welfare state as in the liberal welfare regime (Esping-Andersen, 1990) but has a much broader relevance to welfare state development. This chapter is based on the argument that aspects of liberalism have influenced the development of the welfare state irrespective of regime categorization. The negative influence of neoliberalism in restructuring welfare states since the 1980s has been widely identified and is discussed in this chapter but is situated within the context of a discussion of the key tenets of liberalism that still have, a sometimes positive, sometimes negative and often contradictory influence on western welfare states. The economic dimension of liberalism, with its emphasis on the primacy of the market, is one dimension of the configuration of ideas embodied in liberalism that have relevance to welfare state analysis. This configuration includes individualism, moral egalitarianism and universalism although the particular liberal denotation of these concepts has to be borne in mind and their implications for social policy examined in the context of the dual character of contemporary liberal democracies. The twin pillars of these societies are a capitalist economic system and a democratic political system. The central issue that must inform analysis of welfare states in such systems is the balance between these pillars and the extent to which inequalities associated with the market are modified through the democratic system. Citizenship rights are the core element of all welfare states and...

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