Social investment: the discourse and the dimensions of change

Alexandra Dobrowolsky and Ruth Lister

in Modernising the welfare state

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2008 | ISBN: 9781847420404
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302834 | DOI:
Social investment: the discourse and the dimensions of change

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This chapter assesses the nature and scope of changes to the welfare state in relation to the ‘social investment’ turn. It argues that Tony Blair's New Labour governments recalibrated welfare state priorities, programmes, and expenditures, both as a response to social risk and to promote economic competitiveness, through an embrace of social investment discourses and practices. While social investment, at its core, is all about activation (that is, labour market policy ‘concerned with helping people successfully master transitions across the life-course’), it has nevertheless ‘activated’ far wider realms and actors than initially anticipated, having an impact on policy ideas and instruments, as well as institutions, interests, and identities, with implications beyond the conditional welfare state.

Keywords: welfare state; social policy; New Labour; social risk; economic competitiveness

Chapter.  6890 words. 

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