The welfare state, especially as we have come to know it in Anglo-Saxon countries since the Second World War, is characterized by a commitment to universal programmes meant to give every citizen a certain basic income and a network of essential social services. Because these programmes are to be universal (or, if means-tested, fairly administered) it has usually been assumed — certainly by the advocates of the welfare state — that the programmes should be administered centrally by the state. It is the purpose of this chapter to begin to probe this assumption. We will examine, first of all, the historical arguments in favour of centralization brought forward by both social democrats and Leninists. We will then turn to more recent debates concerning centralization. We will find that many social democrats will argue in favour of centralization, but now advocate that representatives of labour and business be part of the authority. In other words, corporatism has been seen as a new form of the welfare state. We will also find that many recent Marxist authors have probed the contradictions of the welfare state. With these elements we will finally develop the essentially negative argument that while centralization has seemed necessary for the development of the welfare state, it has tended to exacerbate the inherent contradictions.
KeywordsWelfare State Capital Accumulation Structural Reform Welfare Programme Capitalist State
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