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States of welfare: A conceptual challenge

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John Veit-Wilson


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A major problem hindering rigorous analysis in social policy is the diverse and imprecise meanings attached to the term 'welfare state'. In widespread usage the term has become emptied of all explanatory meaning and is used as a synonym for modern industrial states, all of which provide welfare for some of their inhabitants. The converse of the term (what modern industrial state is not a welfare state?) is rarely if ever addressed. In an attempt to encourage debate on the development of productive theory, the paper therefore discusses issues surrounding a discriminating definition of 'welfare states' and points to former assumptions that they 'ensure a minimum real income for all', to distinguish them from unwelfare states which benefit some but not all. It suggests a research agenda to provide empirical data which would enable welfare states to be identified and classified in terms of the effectiveness of their policies and provisions.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Veit-Wilson J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Social Policy and Administration

Year: 2000

Volume: 34

Issue: 1

Pages: 1-25

Print publication date: 01/03/2000

ISSN (print): 0144-5596

ISSN (electronic): 1467-9515


DOI: 10.1111/1467-9515.00175


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