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About this book

This book introduces students to the diversity of theoretical perspectives on welfare, both illuminating the distinctiveness of each ideology and highlighting important continuities in thought. It goes on to illustrate how these theories are reflected in and challenge the development of welfare policy.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction

Abstract
The aim of this book is to outline a variety of ideological perspectives on welfare and to consider how these ideas are reflected in a range of social policies. It is important to realise at the outset that ideas have an important part to play in setting the tone and defining the parameters of political activity and that when governments develop their policies they often do so within constantly changing ideological frameworks. Ideologies do not stand still, nor do they develop in isolation of the policies and debates engineered by governments. Ideologies develop as a result of successes and failures of government initiatives and in response to circumstances that can sometimes appear beyond the control of government. This book looks at ideological debates about the role of the state in tending to the general welfare of the citizens and concentrates, in particular, on the development of ideas and policies in such areas as the benefits system, housing, health care and education. Ideologies provide us with numerous interpretations of economic, social and political life. We can pose questions about who should be responsible for financing health care and to what extent the state should provide benefits, subsidise housing or provide education. It is often the case that the answers to these questions owe more to our ideological assumptions about the character of humanity than to distinct views on social issues. Each ideology has its own distinctive way of viewing human characteristics, of interpreting economic and social affairs, of considering the legitimate functions of the state and of challenging and changing the way we live. By looking at ideologies, we have access to a range of critical perspectives on contemporary society and a broad spectrum of possibilities for the future.
Gary Taylor

2. Liberalism

Abstract
The term liberalism can be used in a variety of ways and can attract people with extremely different views. The left and the right sometimes use the word liberal as a term of abuse. In both cases, liberals can be condemned for displaying weakness in their attempts to balance conflicting interests in society rather than side with capital (the right wing perspective) or with labour (the left’s preference). We should bear in mind, however, that there are different types of liberals. The classical liberals of the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries were arch defenders of capitalism and ardent critics of an interventionist state. It was not until the late nineteenth century that liberals began to engage with social problems in a way that allowed the state to increase its functions. The term social liberal will be used when referring to these pioneers of the modern welfare state. This chapter will have something to say about both these forms of liberalism. Given that we are primarily interested in welfare issues, greater attention will be given to the social liberals and to their sensitive handling of social issues. In a later chapter (Chapter 5), we will look at attempts to revive the spirit of classical liberalism and repackage it in the form of neo-liberalism. For now, the discussion of classical liberalism will draw upon the ideas of Adam Smith, Tom Paine, Herbert Spencer and the ever-changing John Stuart Mill. The ideas of T.H. Green, L.T. Hobhouse, John Maynard Keynes and John Rawls will be used to illustrate some of the key features of social liberalism. Material on these theorists will be supplemented by some examples of policies introduced by key liberal regimes including the 1906–1914 Liberal governments in Britain and the Democratic administrations of Roosevelt and Johnson in the United States.
Gary Taylor

3. Conservatism

Abstract
Conservatives are less prone than social liberals to rely upon the state to address and solve social problems through direct intervention in the economic and social systems. Whereas some liberals have put forward reasonably radical proposals, conservatives talk about the importance of preserving what we have and protecting our cherished traditions from unfamiliar and untried political schemes. This is not to say that conservatives are against all change. Conservatives often argue that slow and methodical social reform is necessary to preserve the fundamentals of the existing order and to reduce the appeal of revolutionary ideas and movements (see Kendall, 1963; Macmillan, 1966). Although this chapter will make use of some international examples, it will concentrate in the main on conservative ideas and movements in Britain and the United States. We will take a look at the ideas of theorists from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries including Edmund Burke, Thomas Carlyle, John Ruskin and Matthew Arnold. Key British conservatives like Iain Gilmour, Harold Macmillan and Lord Hailsham will have a central place in the chapter alongside some American theorists. In addition to covering these theoretical developments, key conservative administrations will be discussed. These include the Macmillan governments in Britain and the Eisenhower, Nixon and George W. Bush administrations in the United States.
Gary Taylor

4. Social Democracy

Abstract
Social democrats are primarily interested in finding ways to reform capitalism out of existence. Unlike many Marxists, they favour gradual change rather than the chaos created by revolutions and believe that the capitalist state can be used against the exclusive interests of the capitalist class and made to serve the common good. Social democrats tend to want to use social policies to create a more egalitarian society. Like social liberals and many conservatives, they often subscribe to an organic theory of society in which society is seen as an interdependent organism that evolves over time and influences the character of the citizen body. It is argued that society has a life of its own and that individuals have a responsibility to nourish the social system. Sidney Webb (1889), for example, pointed out that we all have social functions to perform and that individuals develop by contributing towards the social good rather than by acting in ignorance or indifference towards the good of society. What follows on social democracy will draw heavily upon British social democratic theorists including the Fabian Society, Ramsay MacDonald, Tony Crosland, R.H. Tawney, T.H. Marshall and Aneurin Bevan. Special attention will also be given to the policies introduced by the Labour Party in Britain and international examples will be used for comparative purposes.
Gary Taylor

5. Neo-liberalism

Abstract
With the rise of neo-liberalism, debates on the social responsibilities of the state changed direction. The ideologies covered so far attempted to varying degrees to defend, and in many cases advance, the notion that the state should be involved in the provision of a range of social services. There is of course a vast difference between Republican presidents like Eisenhower and Nixon and passionate socialists like Aneurin Bevan, but social liberalism, conservatism and social democracy shared the view for much of the postwar period that the state has at least some responsibility for the common welfare and that this welfare can be advanced by using social policies. This view is attacked mercilessly by neo-liberals. The neo-liberals, and the new right regimes they inspired, believed that the apparent consensus on the economy and on welfare had increased the power of the state to such an extent that individuals were being swamped and subjugated in the interests of the common good. For the neo-liberals, it was important to remind ourselves of the wisdom and insight contained in the thoughts of the classical liberals. It was argued that individuals need to be made responsible for their own welfare and that the state should withdraw as far as possible from economic management and social provision. This can be interpreted as a right wing reaction to the centre (and in some cases, centre-left) ideas and policies of social liberals, conservatives and social democrats. Key theorists involved in this reaction included Freidrich von Hayek, Milton Friedman and Robert Nozick. Administrations influenced by and participating in this reaction included the Thatcher governments in Britain and the Reagan governments in the United States.
Gary Taylor

6. Third Way

Abstract
Recoiling from the jolt administered by neo-liberals and the new right, the centre and centre-left had to find their balance once again. The Democratic Party in America had been out of office for 12 years and the Labour Party had been stuck in opposition to the Conservatives for 18 years. There can be little doubt that these parties regained their popularity and sense of direction by reassessing their aims and by devising a ‘third way’ between their old policy agenda and that of their main opponents. For Bill Clinton, the third way was situated between the old-style social liberalism of the Democratic Party and the new right perspectives of the Republicans. The new cocktail emphasised individual responsibility alongside a commitment to the community. It promised to serve the interests of the rich and poor and establish a new balance between the public and private sectors (Clinton, 2002). For Tony Blair, the third way meant maintaining the social democratic commitment to social justice but combining this with the (neo) liberal faith in the ‘… primacy of individual liberty in the market economy’ (Blair, 2003a, p. 28). In both cases, the third way meant increasing the role of government in economic and social affairs while stopping short of the level of intervention once supported by the Democratic and Labour Parties. The following account of the third way will pay particular attention to the ideas of Anthony Giddens and Will Hutton and to the policy initiatives of the Clinton administrations in the United States and the Blair governments in Britain.
Gary Taylor

7. Radical Critics: Marxism

Abstract
It is now time to leave behind the political mainstream and to look at some ideas that are often found on the fringes of the Western political system. All of the ideologies and movements dealt with so far have had some degree of electoral success and have been involved in developing, defending or reforming the welfare state. Each, in its own distinctive way, works within the confines of the capitalist system and seems content to compete for control over parliamentary or congressional chambers. The ideologies covered in Chapters 2–6 are democratic and reformist. They compete over the jurisdiction of the state and vary considerably in the scope of their economic and social programmes. The next three chapters, however, are dedicated to those who have yet to secure a significant amount of power in Western systems and who tend to be critical of the political mainstream. We begin by taking a look at the ideas of the Marxists. Rather than argue that capitalism should be saved through prudent economic management and constructive welfare policies, many Marxists believe that capitalism is flawed as an economic system and positively dangerous in the values it promotes. From a Marxist perspective, rights to welfare are given not to secure a fairer system, out of benevolence or in recognition of the importance of advancing some form of equality, but to protect and conceal the selfish interests of the capitalist class. This interpretation of welfare systems will be illustrated by drawing upon the ideas of classical Marxists (Marx, Engels and Lenin) and contemporary Marxist authors (Gough, Ginsburg, Navarro, Miliband and Offe).
Gary Taylor

8. Radical Critics: Feminism

Abstract
Whereas Marxists criticise the welfare state for failing to deal adequately with the long-term needs and interests of the working class, feminists believe that the welfare state fails to challenge with any degree of conviction inequalities between men and women. Feminism differs significantly from liberalism, conservatism and socialism because it attempts to cut across class divisions and concentrate upon issues surrounding gender. Feminists investigate the roots of the oppression of women and attempt to suggest ways in which women can liberate themselves from the constraints of patriarchal (male dominated) society. They understand that women are discriminated against because of their sex and that women have specific needs which require fundamental economic, social and political change (Wilford, 1994). For some feminists this involves a policy of equal opportunities, while others want to undo the bonds between men and women, transform the social and economic system or revolutionise our understanding of the environment. As we will see, feminists have some interesting things to say about the character of Western society and about the limitations of the current system of social provision. It is clear that the welfare state, whatever its original intentions, has not liberated women from discrimination and oppression. Although this might be a lot to expect from a system designed primarily to stabilise the status quo and alleviate a relatively narrow band of social problems, feminists have been instrumental in revealing some of the severe limitations of current welfare states. Indeed, many feminists can be viewed as radical critics of the way Western societies approach welfare provision. This can be illustrated by taking a look at a variety of authors including (though by no means confined to) Betty Frieden, Carole Pateman, Kate Millett and Ann Oakley.
Gary Taylor

9. Radical Critics: Greens

Abstract
In the final chapter on the radical critics, we will take a look at the ideas of the greens. Often strange, but rarely dull, the greens question the core foundations of the industrial capitalist system. Unlike the ideologies covered in Chapters 2–6, the greens do not want to tinker with the distribution of the national product or promise to reward their supporters with tax cuts or increments to social provision. The greens, like the Marxists and some sections of the feminist movement, believe that society needs to be completely transformed and organised according to a different set of values. Having more in common with the political left than with the political right, the greens are often critical of capitalism and argue that the profit motive can and does have a disastrous effect upon the environment and that some form of public regulation is necessary to limit the damage caused by private companies. The greens also ask us to reconsider how we view ourselves and our relations with each other and with the planet. It is clear that they want us to transform the way we think and abandon the common preoccupation with material gratification. Like the other radical critics, they argue that there are definite limits to what the welfare state can achieve and that we should look elsewhere for our salvation. This chapter on the greens will draw upon the ideas of a range of theorists including Murray Bookchin, Andre Gorz, Fritjof Capra, Jonathan Porritt and will also include something on the policies of the Green Parties in Britain, the United States and in Australia.
Gary Taylor

10. Conclusion

Abstract
In reviewing ideological perspectives on welfare, special attention has been paid in this volume to the role of the state in the provision of social services and to at least some of the alternatives to state provision. We have seen that theorists and practitioners both comment upon existing provision and discuss possibilities for the future development of human welfare. Responsibility for the advancements of welfare is given to different sections of society by the various ideologies. Ultimate responsibility could lie with individuals, the state, self-help groups, the voluntary sector or with a mixed economy of provision. The various ideologies also differ in the value they place upon charity, social rights, freedom, equality and social justice. It is hoped that the ideologies selected will provide readers with a range of ideas, from which they can pick and mix and use to evaluate their own ideas of welfare. An attempt has been made to include those ideologies that helped to form the welfare state (liberalism, conservatism and social democracy), those that have been instrumental in reforming the welfare state (neo-liberalism and the third way) and those that cast doubt upon the value of the welfare state (Marxism, feminism and the greens). While it is acknowledged that this list is by no means comprehensive, it is hoped that enough variety is provided to suit most political tastes. In this final chapter, an attempt will be made to draw together some of this material and to identify some of the ways in which ideologies can assist us in understanding issues of welfare.
Gary Taylor
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