The Distribution of State Welfare
This chapter continues the process of challenging myths about the welfare state and broadening our approach to conceptualising issues relating to welfare and equality. As has already been discussed, inequality is partially sustained by the manner in which popular discourses about welfare concentrate only, or mainly, on the poor and only, or mainly, on social welfare. In the previous chapter I have built up a picture of the characteristics of social welfare in a number of Western capitalist countries. The relevant literature on this topic is vast. We even have a discipline, social administration, that was developed expressly to study social welfare. When we come to consider inequality and the distribution of a much wider range of state interventions, however, there is relative silence. In particular, there is a dearth of research about the wealthy (Spånt, 1979/80). No country that I investigated, including Sweden, with its well-developed culture of research and planning, collects and maintains comprehensive wealth statistics. The tendency has certainly been to study down, rather than to study up: that is, to study the powerful rather than the powerless.
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