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Welfare after Growth

Theoretical Discussion and Policy Implications

Max Koch

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.

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Alan Walker

This article examines the extent to which the concept of social quality could contribute to a transformation in the debates about the welfare sustainability in Asia and Europe. The article starts by outlining the concept of social quality: its constitutional, conditional and normative components and the origins of its development as a European conceptual framework. Then a bridge is created between Europe and Asia by looking briefly at the similarities and differences between social quality and human security, a concept that is more familiar in the latter region than the former one. is is followed by a critique of the global discourses on 'sustainability' and, in particular, their dominance by economism. The final part of the article utilizes the concept of social quality to propose a more open and balanced approach to sustainability that brings in social and ecological considerations alongside economic ones. Some tentative suggestions are made concerning the operationalisation of a social quality approach to welfare system sustainability

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Welfare and Self Care

Institutionalized Visions for a Good Life in Danish Day-care Centres

Eva Gulløv

Using the case of early childcare institutions in contemporary Denmark, the aim of the article is to show that welfare entails visions of living that are made manifest through the requirements of everyday institutional practices. The main argument is that welfare institutions are designed not only to take care of people's basic needs but also to enable them to fare well in accordance with the dominant norms of society. This is particularly evident in the case of children. Children are objects of intense normative attention and are invested in as no other social group in order to ensure their enculturation. Therefore, studying the collective investments in children, for example by paying attention to the institutional arrangements set up for them, offers insight into dominant cultural priorities and hoped-for outcomes.

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Protest Events, Welfare Generosity, and Welfare State Regimes

A Comparative Analysis of Welfare States and Social Unrest

David Pritchard

On average, over a fifth of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) across advanced industrialized countries is spent on the main social policy areas that constitute the welfare state—old age pensions, survivors allowances, incapacity-related benefits

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Katherine Smith

, which suggested she would not be able to have children. She remains fully reliant on welfare income, including Disability Living Allowance (DLA), Housing Benefit, and Child Allowance, which have formed the bulk of her weekly income until the present day

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‘The Good Citizen’

Balancing Moral Possibilities in Everyday Life between Sensation, Symptom and Healthcare Seeking

Sara Marie Hebsgaard Offersen, Peter Vedsted, and Rikke Sand Andersen

possibilities for interpretations and actions regarding the body, health and illness. Most prominently, these possibilities include concerns about the common good of the Danish welfare state, which may legitimate decisions in either direction in the question of

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‘Sorting out income’

Transnational householding and austerity Britain

Deborah James and Samuel Kirwan

The reliance of welfare recipients on the state is classically demonised as a relation of dependency: one that foments passivity on the part of claimants. Critical voices in austerity Britain have drawn attention to government efforts to reconfigure that relationship, by ‘reforming’ welfare, remaking the grantee as a repaying loan‐taker and turning dependents into responsible, autonomous citizens. This paper, based on research in the debt advice sector in England, shows that dependency may involve unexpected directionalities of reliance. (Those who appear as state dependents in one register can be those depended upon in another.) It focuses in particular on encounters with migrants, describing what the process of ‘transnational householding’ tells us about dependency. It discusses the relations between advisers and clients, showing how advice charities create a parallel system of care and support. A punitive and debt‐based welfare system means that many clients owe money to the state as well as to commercial creditors. Austerity and welfare reform are rendering individuals’ obligations to family members and others fragile and insecure. But given advisers’ intervention between a hostile bureaucracy and debtors, the experience of reckoning, owing money and settling accounts can end up as something more akin to householding than to controlling discipline.

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An Anthropology of Welfare

Journeying towards the Good Life

Susanne Langer and Susanne Højlund

This issue of Anthropology in Action is dedicated to the study of welfare – understood as a social, culturally specific and long-term process of transformation – from an anthropological perspective. But is a study of ‘welfare’ still relevant and is it an appropriate concept to study what counts as a ‘good life’ well-lived? Has comprehensive publicly funded welfare still a role to play, or have collective welfare arrangements and institutions not been replaced by individuals’ personal quests for well-being?

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Frida Hastrup and Marianne Elisabeth Lien

What do natural resource frontiers look like when configured within the highly regulated systems of wealth redistribution, welfare provisions, and environmental governance that characterize the Nordic states? This is the overarching question that

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The Logic of Welfare

Religious and Sociological Foundations of Social Policy Rationality

Elmar Rieger

The article aims to contribute to the sociological theory of the welfare state by addressing a fundamental puzzle of social policy, namely, the weakness of its claim to be a rational effort of society dealing with problems of social integration. Drawing on the work of Franz-Xaver Kaufmann, I distinguish between the cultural or ideational side of the welfare state and the social engineering or outcome side, arguing to take the rhetoric and symbolism of social policy more seriously. The integration of society is more due to the communicative action of social policy than to its organizational quality. As early as the axial age civilizations, symbolism and ideology emerged as an autonomous field of social conflict and societal union. Taking ancient Israel as an example, I argue that societal integration may take place even in the absence of strong institutional correlates of social politics. This can help to explain why the welfare state in modern society is compatible with ever-increasing economic and social inequality.