Skip to content

All SAP systems will be unavailable on Saturday 10th December 2022 from 0800-1800 UK Time.

If you can’t place an order, please contact Customer Services to complete your order.

UK/ROW +44 (0) 1223 326050 | US 1 800 872 7423 or 1 212 337 5000 | Australia/New Zealand 61 3 86711400 or 1800 005 210, New Zealand 0800 023 520

Register Sign in Wishlist

The Work of Politics
Making a Democratic Welfare State

$29.99 (F)

  • Date Published: February 2022
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781108745970

$ 29.99 (F)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:
Hardback, eBook

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • The Work of Politics advances a new understanding of how democratic social movements work with welfare institutions to challenge structures of domination. Klein develops a novel theory that depicts welfare institutions as “worldly mediators,” or sites of democratic world-making fostering political empowerment and participation within the context of capitalist economic forces. Drawing on the writings of Weber, Arendt, and Habermas, and historical episodes that range from the workers' movement in Bismarck's Germany to post-war Swedish feminism, this book challenges us to rethink the distribution of power in society, as well as the fundamental concerns of democratic theory. Ranging across political theory and intellectual history, The Work of Politics provides a vital contribution to contemporary thinking about the future of the welfare state.

    • Develops a new theory of the relationship between the welfare state and democracy in an accessible fashion
    • Provides original interpretations of central theorists in 20th century political theory
    • Demonstrates how to use historical evidence and interpretation to enrich arguments in political theory
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    ‘The welfare state is a site of intense democracy, where workers, women, people of color, and immigrants take radical action on their own behalf. In a fascinating reconstruction of more than a century's thinking – from Weber to Habermas and beyond – Klein gives us not only the most discerning and robust theory of the welfare state to date, but a way to think past the welfare state, to show us what democratic agency in a 21st century political economy might be.' Corey Robin, Brooklyn College

    ‘Democratic theory meets political economy in this wonderful book. Struggles over health insurance, unemployment support, job guarantees, and minimum income can be radically transformative of social and political relations. Rich in history, theory, and fact, this book offers an exciting new take on the welfare state and its democratic potential.' Simone Chambers, University of California, Irvine

    ‘Steven Klein's new book is a masterpiece in the field of critical democratic theory of welfare institutions. In this theoretically rich and historically informed book, Klein encourages emancipatory social movements to recognize how social welfare concerns can become the crucial occasion for broader forms of democratic action and state reform. An impressive work that will find its audience.' Christian Volk, Freie Universität Berlin

    ‘This book is political theory at its very best: erudite, illuminating, and relevant.' Margaret Kohn, University of Toronto

    ‘Articulating a combative programme for the democratization of the economy, this book renders radical politics both more pervasive and more plausible. Rich in pertinent historical detail and ambitious theoretical insight, it dispels many of the misperceptions that encumber our political imagination, paving the path for transformative democratic politics (or for emancipatory solidarity) that we now need as a matter of urgency.' Albena Azmanova, University of Kent

    ‘With a deft mix of political history and the history of political thought, Steven Klein illuminates how welfare institutions have been and could still be sites for ongoing democratic engagement. His brilliant and original readings of Weber, Arendt, Heidegger, and Habermas show how the realm of bare life or necessity can, through the very ordinariness and pervasiveness of its connections to people's lives, be a place where collectives coalesce to struggle over and for the good life. And most impressively, he shows that this remains true even when that realm is thoroughly bureaucratized.' Shalini Satkunanandan, University of California, Davis

    ‘This is a wonderful book. It is a must read for anyone interested in the history of the welfare state and its potential to spark social movements in the future … The Work of Politics is undoubtedly an important contribution to contemporary political philosophy at a time when debates about welfare institutions are back on the political agenda.’ Peter J. Verovšek, Contemporary Political Theory

    ‘This deep theoretical exercise draws on a thorough understanding of welfare policy in the 19th and 20th centuries and offers an innovative interpretation of the possibilities for more democracy and wider participation that have evolved in contrast to the Weberian, bureaucratic lens through which such policy is often viewed.’ R. Heineman, Choice

    ‘… Klein’s impressive book helps us to look for exactly this possibility within the welfare state and the wider institutional infrastructure to which it belongs.’ Maurits de Jongh, Theory & Event

    ‘Steven Klein’s excellent new book, The Work of Politics: Making a Democratic Welfare State, aims to reorient our view of the contemporary welfare state by persuasively showing how welfare institutions not only reproduce bureaucratic domination but also provide emancipatory possibilities to bring domination to an end.’ Benjamin L. McKean, Perspectives on Politics

    ‘The Work of Politics is an incredibly rich book theoretically … the book is unparalleled in its analytical sophistication, and its arguments are well worthy of recognition for anyone committed to a society of equals politically and economically.’ Julia Maskivker, The Review of Politics

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: February 2022
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781108745970
    • length: 220 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 151 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.3kg
    • contains: 2 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. Domination and the welfare state: direct, structural, and abstract
    2. From calculation to domination: Max Weber on democracy and the welfare state
    3. From value to world: Martin Heidegger, Hannah Arendt, and the politics of world-making
    4. From world to emancipation: Jürgen Habermas, domination, and the welfare state revisited
    Conclusion. Democratic theory and the future of the welfare state.

  • Author

    Steven Klein, King's College London
    Steven Klein is a Lecturer in the Department of Political Economy at King's College London.

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×
warning icon

Turn stock notifications on?

You must be signed in to your Cambridge account to turn product stock notifications on or off.

Sign in Create a Cambridge account arrow icon

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.