This book makes the case for the welfare state. Nearly every government in the developed world offers some form of social protection, and measures to improve the social and economic well-being of its citizens. However, the provision of welfare is under attack. The critics argue that welfare states are illegitimate, that things are best left to the market, and that welfare has bad effects on the people who receive it. If we need to be reminded why we ought to have welfare, it is because so many people have come think that we should not.
Arguments for Welfare is a short, accessible guide to the arguments. Looking at the common ideas and reoccurring traits of welfare policy across the world it discusses:
·The Meaning of the 'Welfare State'
·The Moral Basis of Social Policy
·The Limits of Markets
·Public Service Provision
·The Role of Government
With examples from around the world, the book explains why social welfare services should be provided and explores how the principles are applied. Most importantly, it argues for the welfare state's continued value to society. Arguments for Welfare is an ideal primer for practitioners keen to get to grips with the fundamentals of social policy and students of social policy, social work, sociology and politics.
1. Welfare and the welfare state / 2. The moral basis of social policy / 3. Benefitting other people / 4. Individualism and self-interest / 5. The limits of the market / 6. Providing public services / 7. The role of government / 8. Welfare as a way of realising other values / 9. Policy for society / 10. Does welfare have bad consequences? / Why welfare? / Bibliography / Index
In the past 30 years, the apparent consensus that government should promote social welfare has frayed. Much of the argument against the welfare state is that welfare policies are often counterproductive, exacerbating the problems of poverty and insecurity that they are supposed to solve. This text begins by rejecting these kinds of arguments, holding that the real issues are moral: the reason welfare provision is controversial is not disagreement about the effects of social policy, but disagreement about the moral basis for policies to promote social welfare. After a brief survey of theories of ethics, the author sets out a strong case for the welfare state drawing on all of these theories. The arguments of each chapter are summarized in a closing section, and the final chapter sets out a marvelously condensed statement of ‘twenty-six ... principal reasons for the provision of welfare.’ The book is clear and accessible, very much a primer, and the author is a distinguished authority on social policy. An excellent place to start, it invites deeper explorations of these issues.
Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty.
The welfare state has long faced a strong ideological attack from the right. In this concise book, Paul Spicker formulates a normative defense of the welfare state by outlining key arguments that justify social provision. Clearly written, Arguments for Welfare is must read for students of social policy seeking to explore the normative foundations of welfare.
Professor Spicker’s particular strength is his deep and wide-ranging analysis of the fundamental reasons why states organise their people’s welfare, combining scholarship with readability. His focus is not the details of systems but the foundations of the variety of state activities in morality, philosophy and functional reasons. His balanced review of arguments for and against state involvement and the complexity of their interactions is historical and highly topical, which makes it essential for a wide range of users from policy-makers of all persuasions to students.
Paul Spicker is Emeritus Professor of Public Policy at the Robert Gordon University.