Welfare, Ideology and Need : Developing Perspectives on the Welfare State
Welfare, Ideology and Need examines the ideological conflict that emerged in the 1970s and 1980s between Social Democracy and the New Right over the welfare state. Writing from a critical theory perspective, Martin Hewitt asks whether the foundations of a new ideological consensus on the welfare state have been established for the 1990s, and, if not, when and under what circumstances such a consensus might eventually emerge, and what form it would take.
Part I examines the strengths and weaknesses of these two political ideologies and their respective policy programs in addressing the welfare needs and aspirations of citizens. In addition it seeks to identify the intellectual resources of Social Democratic welfare theory capable of withstanding the ideological assault of the Right.
In Parts II and III, the book draws on Marxist and discourse theories of ideology, developed by writers such as Althusser, Foucault, Laclau, Habermas and Lacan. In particular, in examining the distinct contributions of Habermas and Lacan, it seeks to develop an understanding of the nature of human need and how welfare ideology might be positively used to accommodate this in the welfare politics of the 1990s.
The book provides a timely and insightful analysis of recent developments in welfare policy which is invaluable reading for students and researchers of social policy, welfare ideology, social and political theory and cultural studies.