Public Attitudes towards the Welfare State in Europe: Reinventing or Reclaiming?
- Dr Valerie Egdell (Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom)
- Vanesa Fuertes (Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom)
- Dr Helen Graham (Edinburgh Napier University, United Kingdom)
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:
- Are there macro-level comparative variations in public attitudes? Is there variation in public attitudes based on meso-level and individual characteristics and contexts (e.g. inter-generational differences)?
- How, and in what ways, are political movements/parties challenging or supporting welfare state reinvention? How are public attitudes shaped by, and shaping, these movements?
- Are non-government/alternative forms of welfare provision framed as a public resistance to welfare state reinvention?
- Who is able to resist and/or reshape welfare state reinvention? Whose voices are being heard and whose are not? Are those targeted as least deserving resisting, or accepting and internalising, the discourses around ‘undeservingness’?
〈 List of Stream Themes