This chapter discusses economic and functionalist theories of the welfare state advanced in the 1960s, and their more recent revival in the literature on globalization. The chapter's brief intellectual history sets the stage for the “embedded preferences” approach and develops a theory of how mass opinion may shape social policy, as well as a model of the sources of policy attitudes on the part of national publics. Central to this argument is the idea that mass opinion undergirds the contemporary welfare state, providing in many countries a powerful source of legitimacy its political defenders are able to draw upon. This is a notable phenomenon in the hostile climate of the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, when forms of social provision established in earlier decades have been under vigorous attack.
Keywords: functionalist theories; welfare state; globalization; embedded preferences; mass opinion; social policy
Chapter. 9477 words. Illustrated.
Subjects: Political Economy
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