Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates

By Alan Deacon | Go to book overview

Introduction
This book provides an introduction to the current debates about welfare reform in Britain and the United States. It starts from the premise that these debates reflect conflicting views of what constitutes a good society and what role welfare can play in bringing such a society into being. The first part of the book outlines five perspectives on welfare. Each of these perspectives offers a different formulation of what should be the role and purpose of welfare. They are not mutually exclusive, but each draws upon and articulates a different understanding of human nature and of the relationship between welfare and human behaviour and motivation.
Welfare as an expression of altruism. This perspective assumes that the creation of a more equal and cohesive society will foster a sense of mutual obligation and help to realize the moral potentialities of its citizens. The task of welfare is to redistribute resources and opportunities, and thereby provide a framework for the encouragement and expression of altruism.
Welfare as a channel for the pursuit of self-interest. This perspective assumes that the overwhelming majority of people who claim welfare will act rationally to better the conditions of themselves and their dependants. The task of welfare is to provide a framework of incentives that channels this desire for self-improvement in ways conducive to the common good.
Welfare as the exercise of authority. This perspective starts from the premise that a significant proportion of claimants lack the capacities to pursue their own self-interest. In consequence they do not respond to changes in the framework of incentives in the way that the previous perspective assumes. The task of welfare is to compel such people to act in ways that are conducive to their long-term betterment, and hence to the common good.
Welfare as a transition to work. This perspective has developed in

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Perspectives on Welfare: Ideas, Ideologies, and Policy Debates
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Introducing Social Policy ii
  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Series Editor's Foreword x
  • Acknowledgements xii
  • List of Abbreviations xiv
  • Introduction 1
  • Part 1 - The Perspectives 11
  • Chapter One - Welfare and Equality 13
  • Chapter Two - Welfare and Self-Interest 31
  • Chapter Three - Welfare and Paternalism 49
  • Chapter Four - Welfare and Obligation 63
  • Chapter Five - Welfare as Temporary Support 78
  • Part 2 - Policy Debates 89
  • Chapter Six - Ending Dependency? Welfare Reform in the United States 91
  • Chapter Seven - A New Deal for Welfare? New Labour and the Reform of Welfare in Britain 102
  • Conclusion 119
  • Glossary 135
  • Bibliography 140
  • Index 150
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