What is a welfare state?

Authored by: Michael Hill

The Routledge Handbook of the Welfare State

Print publication date:  November  2012
Online publication date:  December  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415682923
eBook ISBN: 9780203084229
Adobe ISBN: 9781136190230


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The object of this chapter is to explore how the concept of the welfare state is used. It identifies an area of confusion, deriving from the evidence that whilst there is a popular view that the welfare state is in some sense a socialist project the reality is that all economically advanced societies have developed welfare institutions. It suggests that it is helpful to look separately at issues about how societies, and accordingly their states, differ in respect of orientations to welfare and about how they differ in respect of the role given to the state. This enables identification of contemporary trends embodying not just welfare cut-backs but also changes to the roles played by the state in respect of welfare.

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