Welfare is an important concept in the social sciences. It is also challenged and contested not only by alternative concepts but also as a political goal in itself. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, this book takes a fresh look at the continuing relevance of welfare in the context of public policy, recent scholarly developments and changes in popular attitudes and behaviour.
The book connects theory and practice. Tracing the concept's background in economics, political science and social policy, the book juxtaposes welfare with newer approaches, such as subjective well-being, capabilities, care, social exclusion and social capital. The links between welfare and political ideas are also elaborated. The welfare state, as it developed historically in Europe and as it is changing in different countries, is given an important place in the analysis. Drawing on a range of empirical work, the book in its final part considers how individuals and groups attain welfare and how this shapes people's decisions and actions in their everyday lives.
Written in a lively style, the book provides students of sociology, social policy and political science with a valuable point of access to a range of debates and thinking in the field of welfare and related concepts.