any kind of state intervention in welfare policies. That is why it is hard for them to accept the long chain of socially necessary labor leading up to the state, which is the final depository of surplus. It is now for the state to handle this taxed
The makings of Weber, Arendt, and Friedman
The Ariadne’s thread that runs through, and connects, the articles in this issue of Theoria is the modern state. How should the state approach welfare policy? Is the state’s power as absolute as once it had been? What is the importance of nationalism for states? What assumptions about the relationship between the state and civil society should be examined, and how? What, especially in a developing society such as South Africa, is—or should be—the relationship between the state and the poor? These are the overarching questions that knit together the contributions.
Massimo Baldini and Paolo Bosi
The year 2007 was an important test bed for the social policy of the
center-left government, the fundamental nature of which was revealed
in the legislative activity related, either directly or indirectly, to the 2007
and 2008 budgets. In this chapter, we review the principal measures
taken and seek to assess both their significance and the coherence of
the general policy design that they embody. A number of criteria (e.g.,
housing, pensions, measures related to unemployment, the status of
families, health care, and social benefits) can be employed to evaluate
social or welfare policies. The first criterion, however, is whether
the government’s actions are consistent with the objectives that it set
itself at the beginning of its mandate. In this context, it is particularly
important to assess the factors that conditioned welfare reform, among
which the constraint of public finances is generally significant. In this
sense, it is important to try to distinguish the objective factors from
those attributable to contrasting viewpoints that existed within the different
strands of the center-left coalition.
This study applies critical discourse analysis to examine the relationship between the imagery and the legitimacy attached to single mothers, as well as the social policy designed for them. The correlation between images, legitimacy, and policy was examined during three decades (the 1970s, 1990s, and 2000s) of extensive legislation pertaining to single-parent mothers. The data have been drawn from a diversity of sources, including Knesset debates, Knesset committee discussions, women's organizations, the media, and semi-structured interviews. The study shows that welfare policy necessarily encapsulates cultural perceptions and basic assumptions pertaining to certain segments of society. These beliefs anchor justifications for the expansion or limitation of social rights and reveal how the development of social rights is linked to cultural and social apprehension.
The Crisis of Venezuelan Democracy
The legacy of Hugo Chavez is contentious. Some lament the deterioration of Venezuelan democracy from one of Latin America's most stable political systems to a populist authoritarian regime. Others celebrate Chavez's participatory project of institutionalizing structures for community-driven development, redistributing oil wealth through welfare policies, and creating a political party closely linked to mass movements. This article provides an alternative assessment of Venezuela's democratic quality by drawing on deliberative democratic theory. I argue that Chavez's participatory project is incomplete because it fails to create structures for deliberative politics. Without these mechanisms, Venezuela remains vulnerable to crises brought about by “uncivil action,” such as military coups and violent protests, making deliberation an important component in averting crises in democratizing polities.
Social Quality Perspectives
Rachel Kurian and Chihiro Uchiyama
This article argues that the social quality approach can be usefully applied to studying “models of elderly care“ that enhance the wellbeing of the elderly and empower them to participate in social activities. Examining three cases in Japan and another three cases in e Netherlands, the study identifies actors, institutions and processes that have provided services for the elderly, highlighting the importance of history and culture in influencing the “social“ of the elderly. The article deals with a range of opportunities and possibilities for optimizing care for the elderly, both as individuals and as a group, through promoting their social inclusion, social cohesion, socio-economic security and social empowerment. Grounded in community networks, as well as in social and intergenerational interaction, these “models“ demonstrate how care-givers, including nurses and family members, are also empowered in these processes. These discussions, reflecting empirical reality and conceptual insights, provide the basis of sustainable welfare policies that improve the social quality of the elderly.
The Atlantic Divide
James Q. Whitman
Americans commonly believe that their country is unique in its commitment to the separation of church and state. Yet by the European measure, the American separation of church and state looks strikingly weak, since Americans permit religious rhetoric to permeate their politics and even cite the Bible in court. In light of these striking differences, this article argues that it is wrong to imagine that there is some single correct measure of the separation of church and state. Instead, northern continental Europe and the United States have evolved two different patterns, whose historical roots reach back into the Middle Ages. In northern continental Europe, unlike the United States, historic church functions have been absorbed by the state. The consequences of this historic divergence extend beyond familiar questions of the freedom of religious expression, touching on matters as diverse as welfare policy and criminal law.
The article examines the welfare policy in Israel concerning 'minors at risk', mainly the cancellation of parents' custody over their offspring and their placement in welfare institutions. I suggest that the ideological discourse plays a major role in this context and terms like 'minor's well-being' are widely used for achieving public legitimacy of the social workers' control of this field. Describing and analysing case studies which I attended and followed since the beginning of the 1990s reveal the consequences of taking away children from their families and placing them in state institutions. The analysis focuses on the organised bureaucratic violence towards children and their parents which accompanies the legally enforced procedures. It also discusses the forceful means used by the staff in the institutions towards the inmates, as part of maintaining order and discipline. I suggest that violent behaviour of officials and organisations which use the state's organised power of coercion against minors and their parents is linked to personal, organisational and political motives.
Theoretical Discussion and Policy Implications
The article discusses approaches to welfare under no-growth conditions and against the background of the growing significance of climate change as a socio-ecological issue. While most governments and scholars favor “green deal” solutions for tackling the climate crisis, a growing number of discussants are casting doubt on economic growth as the answer to it and have provided empirical evidence that the prospects for globally decoupling economic growth and carbon emissions are very low indeed. These doubts are supported by recent contributions on happiness, well-being and alternative measures of measuring prosperity, which indicate that individual and social welfare is by no means equivalent to GDP growth. If the requirements of prosperity and welfare go well beyond material sustenance, then approaches that aim to conceptualize welfare under the circumstances of a “stable state economy” become more relevant. A qualitatively different environmental and welfare policy governance network would need to integrate the redistribution of carbon emissions, work, time, income and wealth. Since social policies will be necessary to address the emerging inequalities and conflicts, this article considers the roles that the various “no-growth” approaches dedicate to social policy and welfare instruments.
The Conseil National des Femmes Françaises (1901-1939)
Focusing on the history of the Conseil national des femmes françaises, composed mainly of Jewish and Protestant women, this article shows how women's philanthropies played an important role in defining the scope and the type of welfare policies concerning mothers and children in France in the first half of the twentieth century. Their version of laïcité raises also several questions: did the religious question recede behind the social question? What role did the different religious distinctions continue to play in shaping welfare measures during the Third Republic? What was their role in defining the meaning of laïcité for social policies at this time? This paper shows that the main French social policy of allocations familiales, adopted in 1932, is the product of intense tensions between Church familialism and state maternalism. Catholic familialism promoted the home as the center of women's activity, lobbied against women's professional work, and refused any intervention of the state in family affairs. State maternalism, promoted primarily by religious minorities and some nonreligious feminists, wanted state intervention in protecting mothers and children. These deeply convinced republicans sought to change family laws and improve family morals. If these Protestant and Jewish philanthropies succeeded in defining the mainstream of laïcité during the first thirty years of the Third Republic, they failed to have a bigger impact on social legislation when the big leap to a national family allowance system was established in 1932.