Transformation of the Welfare State

Transformation of the Welfare State : The Silent Surrender of Public Responsibility

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Since the early 1970s, debate has raged over the "crisis of the welfare state." As the United States successfully exported its bootstrap brand of capitalism and an ever-broadening range of public activity came to be viewed through the prism of profit and loss, social welfare policies were closely scrutinized worldwide. Welfare was no longer seen as a means to remedy the inherent flaws of capitalism, but rather was recast as part of the very problem it was designed to solve. At the same time, the glaring systemic deficiencies of extant welfare systems-and the psychological toll of welfare dependency-became increasingly apparent, even to welfare's supporters. How much has really changed in the world of welfare? A great deal, according to Neil Gilbert, one of our most deeply engaged and thoughtful analysts of social welfare policy. In this panoramic inquiry, Gilbert spans the globe to assess, in provocative yet dispassionate fashion, what welfare looks like in a free market world. From Sweden to the U.S.,
Gilbert finds a fundamental transformation in the welfare state-a turn away from broad-based entitlements and automatic benefits to a new, "enabling" approach defined by policies designed to promote privatization and labor force participation. He provides tangible evidence of how these new systems promote work and responsibility over protection and how they thicken the glue of civil society by diluting the pervasive role of government. Translating the new language of solidarity, activation, and social inclusion that has accompanied these changes, Gilbert reveals that these shifts have had surprisingly broad-based support. Traditional welfare supporters on the left are silently implementing reforms long associated with the policy agenda of the Right. Gilbert concludes with policy recommendations intended to temper the harder, unforgiving edges of this new social protection mentality with pragmatic assistance for those left behind. Illuminating a fundamental shift in the design of modern welfare systems, this landmark work is a must-read for anyone concerned with social policy today.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 224 pages
  • 154.94 x 231.14 x 17.78mm | 340.19g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 10 figures and 5 tables
  • 019517657X
  • 9780195176575
  • 1,229,155

About Neil Gilbert

Neil Gilbert is Chernin Professor of Social Welfare and Social Service at the University of California, Berkeley. His publications include: The Enabling State: Modern Welfare Capitalism in America and, most recently, Welfare Justice: Restoring Social Equity.
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Review quote

"An age of watersheds is the age for grand syntheses: New politics of the welfare state, three worlds of welfare capitalism, transformation of the welfare state, limits to globalization. Neil Gilbert's "enabling state" contributes superbly to this OECD-wide discussion. Promoting work, subsidizing private activity as well as share-holder claims on private markets, and targeting benefits - this is Gilbert's common Western core of "the new market-oriented social
policies."-Stephan Leibfried, Professor of Social Policy, University of Bremen, Germany "This book has a special quality to it, rarely achieved by any other...." -from the foreword by Amitai Etzioni "Denied by the left, and unappreciated by the right, European social welfare regimes seem to be in the midst of a radical transformation toward more work-oriented benefits. So, too, is the U.S, where attention to "welfare reform" has obscured massive increases in aid to the working poor. Neil Gilbert is well known on both continents as one of the most talented and informed observers of comparative welfare policies. He has given us an insightful-and
engaging-description of the causes and extent of this "convergence," and of what the future holds. His balanced assessment will not please the partisans on either side of the political divide, but, for the rest of us, he has opened a door to understanding the new world of welfare in modern society." -Douglas J.
Besharov, Joseph J. and Violet Jacobs Scholar in Social Welfare Studies, American Enterprise Institute "Neil Gilbert's Transformation of the Welfare State has the following virtues: it is based on a deep study of comparative welfare systems; it distinguishes between actual welfare tendencies and desirable utopian ambitions; it carries forward the long tradition of social decencies in the treatment of basic human needs. In other words, Gilbert's work is down the middle ideologically and straight arrow intellectually."-Irving Louis Horowitz, Hannah Arendt
University Professor Emeritus, Rutgers University "This is a book of great interest and profound scholarship from one of the country's leading thinkers on socal welfare issues. It makes a major contribution to the social policy literature and deserves not only to be widely read but widely discussed. Hopefully, it will provoke an extensive debate on how an enabling state can transcend a commitment to promote market solutions to human ills and be worthy of the term's connotation."-Journal of Sociology and Social
Welfare "[A] worthy contribution to welfare state scholarship.... Transformation of the Welfare State deserves commendation for its fascinating, detailed descriptions of welfare retrenchment..."-Social Forces
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Rating details

7 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 14% (1)
4 57% (4)
3 29% (2)
2 0% (0)
1 0% (0)
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