Modern Challenges to the Welfare State and the Antecedents of the Third Way

Rebecca Surender

in Welfare State Change

Published in print October 2004 | ISBN: 9780199266722
Published online January 2005 | e-ISBN: 9780191601941 | DOI:
Modern Challenges to the Welfare State and the Antecedents of the Third Way

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There has been considerable rethinking on the part of governments when it comes to social policy, in particular, about the relationships between the labour market, the family, and the state, and about the role of the state and the nature of governance. Very little of the post-war welfare settlement remains unquestioned, whether the nature of the risk addressed; the nature of entitlements and the form of conditionality to be applied; or the best means of making provision. This chapter outlines these welfare state changes and discusses possible explanations for them including political pragmatism, rapid structural change and the role of political ideas. It argues that whether referred to as ‘Third Way’ or not, many similarities in the welfare reforms adopted by industrialized welfare states can be identified. The chapter offers an examination of the US, the UK, and Australian cases to argue that in order to understand why an explicit discourse of policy reconfiguration and reform was actively embraced in some countries but avoided in others, an analysis of the impact of both the political history and constraints of institutional structures is necessary.

Keywords: America; Australia; goals; policy making constraints; pressures on welfare states; rhetoric; Third Way; UK

Chapter.  9451 words. 

Subjects: Political Economy

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