Chapter 5: Democratic boundaries in the US and Europe: inequality, localization and voluntarism in social welfare
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Recent global changes have had a pronounced effect on the nature of social welfare. Ageing populations, increased immigration and mobility, changes in technology and communication, increased inequality, voluntarism and decentralization all create new conditions and new risks. Most advanced industrial countries have experienced changes in the nature of the welfare state. There has been a general shift away from the state as the sole provider of welfare and an interest in other kinds of welfare providers and forms of governance, as exemplified in the ëdisorganized welfare mixí (see Altman and Shore, chapter 6 for a discussion of this term). Civil society and private actors have become more central to welfare provision. For some, such changes constitute a radical ëcrisis of the welfare stateí (Jessop, 1999), while others claim that changes are regime-specific. Either way, such changes raise questions about how social welfare is being reformed and reshaped, and what the implications of such reforms might be for conceptions of democracy and citizenship. Our aim in this chapter is to examine three of these trends which have emerged in recent years and are contributing to important changes in the way both social welfare and democratic decision making over its form and content interact.

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