Stream 5

Public Attitudes towards the Welfare State in Europe: Reinventing or Reclaiming?

Stream convenors:
In the wake of the economic crisis European governments face the challenge of financing the welfare state; and also ‘new social risks’ (e.g. demographic and social change). Government reactions to the challenges have varied; however, many have imposed cuts and austerity measures to achieve greater ‘effectiveness’ and ‘fairness’, targeting those deemed as ‘least deserving’ of state assistance. In a time of scarcity and insecurity, hostility towards the ‘undeserving’ can be more easily exploited, and a sense of unfairness can result in accepting or demanding punitive policies.
Public attitudes can either legitimise or subvert welfare reforms, thus understanding them is crucial. This stream explores public attitudes to the welfare state, their multidimensionality, and the role they play in welfare state reinvention. In analysing public attitudes, the stream examines what type of public provision they advance (universal and solidaristic vs. minimalist and selective) and whether they focus on the positive social consequences or the negative economic and moral consequences of the welfare state. Is the public resisting, or accepting and legitimising, the reinvention of the welfare state, and what are the consequences for equality and inclusion?

We welcome papers that address one or more of the following questions:
⟨ List of Stream Themes