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‘Liberalism, Citizenship and the Welfare State’

O'Connor, Julia S and Robinson, Gillian (2008) ‘Liberalism, Citizenship and the Welfare State’. In: Culture and the Welfare State. (Eds: van Oorschot, Wim, Opielka, Michael and Pfau-Effinger, Birgit), Edward Elgar Publishing Limited, pp. 29-49. ISBN 978 1 84542 389 6 [Book section]

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This chapter is based on the argument that aspects of liberalism have influenced the development of the welfare state irrespective of regime categorization. The negative influence of neo-liberalism in restructuring welfare states since the 1980s has been widely identified and is discussed in this paper where it is situated within the context of a discussion of the key tenets of liberalism that still have, a sometimes positive, sometimes negative and often contradictory influence on western welfare states. The economic dimension of liberalism, with its emphasis on the primacy of the market, is one dimension of the configuration of ideas embodied in liberalism that have relevance to welfare state analysis. This configuration includes individualism, moral egalitarianism and universalism although the particular liberal denotation of these concepts has to be borne in mind and their implications for social policy examined in the context of the dual character of contemporary liberal democracies. The twin pillars of these societies are a capitalist economic system and a democratic political system. The central issue that must inform analysis of welfare states in such systems is the balance between these pillars and the extent to which inequalities associated with the market are modified through the democratic system. The implications of this analysis of liberalism, in its various dimensions, are that a cultural dimension is an essential component of an explanatory framework for cross-national welfare state research and that the contemporary influence of liberalism is not confined to neo-liberalism; a positive liberal influence on policy development, if considerably modified by other streams of thought, may be more pervasive than is often assumed.

Item Type:Book section
Faculties and Schools:Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty of Social Sciences > School of Criminology, Politics and Social Policy
Research Institutes and Groups:Institute for Research in Social Sciences > Social Work & Social Policy
Institute for Research in Social Sciences
ID Code:9783
Deposited By: Professor Julia S O'Connor
Deposited On:27 Jan 2010 10:17
Last Modified:12 Nov 2013 17:04

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