Citizenship and Welfare State Reform in Europe

Citizenship and Welfare State Reform in Europe

Citizenship and Welfare State Reform in Europe

Citizenship and Welfare State Reform in Europe

Synopsis

This work examines the concept of citizenship in relation to social policy, in the context of the rapidly changing European welfare states. Leading academics analyse concrete changes in social rights and citizenship roles, and offer theoretical investigations of citizenship and the welfare state. Issues discussed include:
• citizenship versus residence as a basis for social rights
• the relationship between rights and obligations
• workers rights and non-workers rights
• exclusion and inclusion in the labour market and community life
• the relationship between social and political citizenship
• poverty and social exclusion
• new roles for citizens as clients, consumers and participants in the welfare state

Excerpt

Ever since Pericles' famous funeral oration the idea of an involved citizenry has been at the core of debates about democracy and individual rights. For the Athens statesman it was clear that citizens who do not take an interest in public affairs but are engaged in their own households only, are not to be seen as harmless, but as useless characters. Although he accepted a distinction between public and private affairs, Pericles stressed the need for citizens to be active in both public and private spheres as an essential characteristic of democratic societies. There is no democracy without engagement or-in other words-without citizenship.

The echo of Pericles' verdict still can be heard, but the focus has shifted from moral pleads with strong voluntarism overtones towards emphasis on structural and cultural preconditions for developing citizenship. the rise of welfare states in western Europe can be seen as an attempt to secure minimum living conditions for each and every citizen. Originally meant for the sick and disabled, coverage was rapidly expanded to the old, the young, and the unemployed. By the end of the 1970s, modern welfare states essentially provide an income guarantee for each citizen. in that way, these states attempt to secure the opportunities for people to act as a citizen even if conditions make it impossible for them to perform their roles as income earners. Without social policies of the welfare state poverty and inequality would imply even more social exclusion than can be observed already. and social exclusion is just another way to say that parts of the population are not able to materialize their citizenship rights.

Depicting welfare-state provisions as basically a guarantee for a lack of private income in order to support citizenship, however, is a view too biased and too limited for analyses of modern societies. First, citizenship is not restricted to the political arena only. Marshall's seminal account of the social, economic, and political aspects of citizenship already points to the fact that citizenship is relevant for virtually every aspect of social life. Politics is an important, but not the only, aspect of today's societies relevant for developing citizenship. Second, although welfare states indeed provide income guarantees, this does not imply that the relationship between welfare provisions and citizenship should be interpreted in a unidirectional way. An engaged citizenry is both a consequence and a precondition for the development of welfare states. Third, the

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