Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates

Synopsis

"Of the several discussions of the American poverty theorists I have read, this is easily the best. Anyone interested in that debate should begin here." - Professor Lawrence M. Mead, New York University

"...a compelling guide to the ideas that have shaped and seek to re-shape welfare provision. This is a student text that teachers will want to read first." - Professor Robert Walker, University of Nottingham

• How do welfare benefits and services shape the attitudes, behaviour and character of claimants? Should entitlement be dependent upon good behaviour?

• What are the major intellectual influences upon current welfare reforms in the UK and the US?

• Is it possible to reform welfare in ways which tackle both social inequality and welfare dependency?

This lucid and engaging book provides an introduction to the current debates about the future direction of welfare reform on both sides of the Atlantic. The first part outlines a range of different perspectives on welfare, and shows how each of these perspectives rests upon a different assumption about the role and purpose of welfare policy and a different understanding of human nature and motivation. Some of these perspectives see the primary role of welfare as to reduce inequalities, while others see the central objective as the reduction of welfare dependency. The second part shows how the current debates in Britain and the United States are informed by these perspectives, and argues that debates about inequality and dependency are not mutually exclusive but address different dimensions of the same problem. In all, this illuminating and forward-looking text is essential reading for courses in social policy, health, and social welfare, as well as those with a political and wider interest in welfare reform.

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