Contested Welfare States: Welfare Attitudes in Europe and Beyond

Contested Welfare States: Welfare Attitudes in Europe and Beyond

Contested Welfare States: Welfare Attitudes in Europe and Beyond

Contested Welfare States: Welfare Attitudes in Europe and Beyond

Synopsis

The welfare state is a trademark of the European social model. An extensive set of social and institutional actors provides protection against common risks, offering economic support in periods of hardship and ensuring access to care and services. Welfare policies define a set of social rights and address common vulnerabilities to protect citizens from market uncertainties. But over recent decades, European welfare states have undergone profound restructuring and recalibration.

This book analyzes people's attitudes toward welfare policies across Europe, and offers a novel comparison with the United States. Occupied with normative orientations toward the redistribution of resources and public policies aimed at ameliorating adverse conditions, the book focuses on the interplay between individual welfare attitudes and behavior, institutional contexts, and structural variables. It provides essential input into the comparative study of welfare state attitudes and offers critical insights into the public legitimacy of welfare state reform.

Excerpt

The welfare state may in many ways be seen as a particular trademark of the European social model. An extensive set of social and institutional actors provide protection against negative consequences of common life-course risks—for example, by offering economic support in periods of hardship or by ensuring access to care and services. Based on collective responsibility and financing, welfare policies define a set of social rights, meet common vulnerabilities, and address needs for protection from market uncertainties.

However, over recent decades, European welfare states have undergone profound restructuring and recalibration. This is a result of economic and political pressures and of adaptive processes to new contingencies due to demographic changes, international migration and economic competition, and persistent unemployment. New forms of risk, taking different shapes across welfare states, have grown out of precarious and insecure life courses. Rising concerns about welfare state sustainability and the slowly growing “Europeanization” of welfare policies are also common challenges across the continent. Increased provider pluralism and new forms of public management, as well as new forms of policies and state intervention, in particular regarding activation policies, work–family reconciliation, and gender policies, are attempts to adjust to these challenges.

In parallel with institutional and structural developments, collective beliefs and representations about welfare and justice have also evolved, sometimes reflecting exclusion and perceived lack of deservingness of groups of beneficiaries—in particular, members of minority groups. In all of these challenges and processes of change, the attitudes and orientations of the public are important, although often neglected, factors that must be taken . . .

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