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The Welfare State: A Fundamental Dimension of Modern Government

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  16 January 2015

David Garland*
Affiliation:
New York University [David.Garland@nyu.edu].
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Abstract

What, in fact, is the Welfare State? This article traces the emergence of the welfare state as a specific mode of government, describing its distinctive rationality as well as its characteristic forms, functions and effects. It identifies five sectors of welfare governance, the relations between them, and the various forms these take in different times and places. It discusses the contradictory commitments that shape welfare state practices and the problems associated with these practices and contradictions. It situates welfare state government within a long-term account of the changing relations between the social and the economic spheres. And it argues that the welfare state ought to be understood as a “normal social fact”—an essential (though constantly contested) part of the social and economic organization of modern capitalist societies.

Résumé

Qu'est-ce que l'Etat-providence? Nombre de commentateurs en font un moment historique dans la Grande-Bretagne de l'après-guerre ou l'Amérique du New Deal. Les académiques discutent de « la mort du social » et d'un glissement de « l'Etat social vers l'Etat pénal » comme si l'Etat-providence avait été transformé par le néo-libéralisme. Cet article retrace l'émergence de l'Etat-providence comme mode spécifique de gouvernance, en décrivant sa rationalité propre tout comme ses formes caractéristiques, ses fonctions et ses effets. Il identifie cinq secteurs de gouvernance de l'Etat-providence, leurs relations ainsi que les différentes formes qu'ils peuvent prendre en fonction de la période et des lieux observés. Il étudie les engagements contradictoires qui façonnent les pratiques de l'Etat-providence, tout comme les problèmes et contradictions associés à ces pratiques. Il situe le gouvernement de l'Etat-providence dans une analyse à long terme des relations évolutives entre les sphères sociale et économique. L'article propose de considérer l'Etat-providence comme un « fait social normal » – une partie essentielle (bien que constamment contestée) de l'organisation sociale et économiques des sociétés capitalistes modernes.

Zusammenfassung

Was ist ein Wohlfahrtsstaat? Zahlreiche Kommentatoren sprechen über ihn, als handele es sich um einen historischen Moment im Nachkriegsengland oder im Amerika des New Deal. Akademiker sprechen vom „Tod des Sozialen“ und vom Übergang des „Sozialstaats zum Strafstaat“, als ob der Sozialstaat vom Neoliberalismus verändert worden wäre. Dieser Aufsatz geht der Entstehung des Sozialstaats als spezifischer Regierungsform auf den Grund, wobei sowohl seine eigene Rationalität als auch seine charakteristischen Formen, Aufgaben und Auswirkungen beschrieben werden. Er identifiziert fünf Regierungsbereiche des Wohlfahrtsstaates, sowie deren, je nach Ära und Ort verschiedenen, Beziehungen und Ausformungen. Er untersucht die gegensätzlichen Versprechen, die den Wohlfahrtsstaat charakterisieren, sowie die Probleme und Widersprüche dieser Praktiken. Die Regierung des Wohlfahrtsstaates wird in eine Langzeituntersuchung der sich wandelnden Veränderungen zwischen sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Sphären einbezogen. Der Aufsatz schlägt vor, den Wohlfahrtsstaat als einen „normalen sozialen Sachverhalt“ zu begreifen – einen bedeutenden Bestandteil (obwohl dauernd angezweifelt) der sozialen und wirtschaftlichen Organisation der modernen kapitalistischen Gesellschaften.

Type
Key Concept
Copyright
Copyright © A.E.S. 2014 

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