Investigating the Welfare State at Century's End
Starts by discussing the new era of austerity in the contemporary welfare state, the reasons for it, and the political problems that it creates. Describes the project that gave rise to the book as bringing together leading researchers from Europe and North America, who seek to increase knowledge about the politics of the contemporary welfare state. The focus is on four overlapping themes, which are covered in the four main parts of the book: (1) the sources and scope of pressures on national welfare states; (2) the role of economic interests, and of systems for representing those interests, in the politics of reform; (3) the implications of electoral politics and the design of political institutions for welfare state adjustment; and (4) the distinctive policy dynamics of particular areas of social provision. These themes are intimately linked, and the linkages between them are made explicit both within and across the chapters of the book. This introduction outlines the four themes and introduces the contributions of the chapters to follow.
Keywords: austerity, contemporary welfare state, economic interests, electoral politics, national welfare states, policy dynamics, political institutions, politics, pressures on the welfare state, reform, social policy, social provision, welfare state
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