Chapter

Philosophical underpinnings. Liberalism and communitarianism: the individual citizen and community

Peter Dwyer

in Welfare rights and responsibilities

Published by Policy Press

Published in print September 2000 | ISBN: 9781861342041
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447304234 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861342041.003.0002
Philosophical underpinnings. Liberalism and communitarianism: the individual citizen and community

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This chapter looks at the differing philosophical traditions of liberalism and communitarianism and explores how their conflicting views on the nature and importance of the ‘individual’ and ‘community’ affect their competing visions of citizenship. It discusses the individualism central to the liberal project and makes an important distinction between ‘libertarian’ liberals, who largely oppose collective welfare provisions, and their more ‘egalitarian’ counterparts, who envisage a citizenship that embraces a notion of ‘social justice’ and a system of recognised welfare rights. The chapter then highlights the communitarian approach and considers the concerns and criticisms about liberalism. It also examines Ferdinand Tonnies' work, as his Gemeinschaft and Gesellschaft offer insight into contrasting assumptions that underpin liberal and communitarian understandings of the concept of community. The chapter concludes by noting that, philosophically, within both liberalism and communitarianism, the extent, and in some cases the legitimacy, of the welfare element of citizenship continues to be a source of much debate.

Keywords: Ferdinand Tonnies; liberalism; communitarianism; citizenship; welfare; community; individualism; social justice; welfare rights

Chapter.  12112 words. 

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