Handbook on Society and Social Policy
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Handbook on Society and Social Policy

Edited by Nicholas Ellison and Tina Haux

This comprehensive Handbook provides a unique overview of the key issues and challenges facing society and social policy in the twenty-first century, discussing how welfare is conceptualised, organised and delivered in contemporary global society. Chapters engage with specific areas of social policy as well as with the social divisions and institutional infrastructures that underpin them. The Handbook also considers how social policy should respond to the challenges posed by austerity, human migration and the climate crisis.
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Chapter 29: The state

Hugh Bochel


‘The state’ is, in many respects, a fundamental feature of contemporary society, affecting the daily lives of people across the world. Yet, at the same time, it is hard to define, and is also widely seen as facing a variety of challenges to its nature and indeed its existence. This chapter considers some of the ways in which the modern state has been characterized and assessed. It then outlines a number of theoretical perspectives that have been influential in understanding the functions of the state. Given that the role of the state in social policy has been of considerable importance, the chapter then explores the idea of the ‘welfare state’, and the challenges and opportunities facing it. The chapter suggests that while the state and the welfare state are undergoing a process of change, they nevertheless remain significant.

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