Government, Governance and Welfare Reform
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Government, Governance and Welfare Reform

Structural Changes and Subsidiarity in Italy and Britain

Edited by Alberto Brugnoli and Alessandro Colombo

This unique and original book focuses on institutional changes, welfare reforms and transformations in both Britain and Italy over the last three decades.
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Chapter 2: Subsidiarity: a new partnership between state, market and civil society

Giorgio Vittadini


In the past – and in the present too – many European countries have assigned a large role to the state in the social and economic fields following a ‘paradigm of conflict’, according to which private activity opposes the public interest (Salamon, 2004), thus marginalizing civil society’s initiatives on the basis of distrust and suspicion. These two sentiments are in turn the consequences of a negative conception of man. The assumption of too great a role by the state tends to deaden human capabilities and dampen the positive contribution that any individual can make to the common good or to progress and justice in general. According to Thomas Hobbes, such a negative conception makes it necessary to draw up a social contract in order to counteract the war-like relationships between one man and another in the ‘state of nature’; this ‘negative anthropology’ is also the basis for a particular conception of the welfare state.

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