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Send us a new image. Is this product missing categories? Add more categories. Review This Product. Welcome to Loot. Checkout Your Cart Price. Special order. This item is a special order that could take a long time to obtain. Description Details Customer Reviews ' Theorising Welfare is very well written and painstakingly clear. It is an accessible and original textbook on the welfare state and the idea of welfare.

There is nothing available like it in terms of its scope and intellectual sweep' - Scott Lash, University of Lancaster There are many interpretations of welfare and welfare states, each providing insights into different aspects of welfare and pointing to different possibilities for its future. Theorising Welfare provides a guide to these debates through an examination of seven theoretical perspectives - liberalism, Marxism, neo-liberalism, post-structuralism, political economy, political ecology and postmodernism - situating them within their historical and political contexts.

Review This Product No reviews yet - be the first to create one! A Marxist social policy, thus, is premised on the abolition of the ownership of labour and its products by people other than those who do the labouring. The means and the goal of Marxist social policy is the emancipation of labour from exploitation, the self-fulfilment of each individual and the whole society through creative and free labour. In both liberalism and Marxism, then, there is an essential connection between labour, the welfare of each individual and the welfare of the whole society, although the connection is formulated in radically different ways.

Liberal social theory proposes a view of social progress in which each individual and each social group fulfils a necessary role in maintaining the development of the whole. In turn, the most free and most efficient development of the whole promotes the fullest welfare of each individual. The development of the whole depends on enabling the most free and most efficiently coordinated access to the stratified socio-economic system.


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Liberal normative theory, by extension, proposes organising stratification systems so that both individual and social development are most effectively enabled. Marxist social theory, in contrast, proposes a view of social progress in which each individual is a material product of the social whole. It is the destiny of humanity to overcome the divisions and contradictions that underpin the exploitation of labour and uphold the private ownership of the means of production.

The development of the whole depends on the historical abolition of class divisions around ownership of those means. In turn, the abolition of those divisions promotes the emancipation of each individual from exploitation and thereby promotes their fullest welfare. Marxist normative theory, by extension, proposes to destratify the socio-economic system so that individual and social development are most effectively enabled. Both Marxism and liberalism theorise an underlying or essential unity to human affairs that gives coherence and direction to the apparently chaotic disorder of social life.

The liberal focus on the invisible hand or the evolution of races and societies is contested by the Marxist focus on historical stages and species being. None the less, theoretically, both posit a direction to social change: societies progressively — either through evolution or revolution — become more advanced and the welfare of each [Page ] individual is a function of the level or stage of development of the social whole.

Liberal and Marxist perspectives thus interpret social policies in terms not only of their contribution to or impacts on individual welfare but also in terms of historical trajectories through which societies are seen to progress. The character of social policies and their consequences for social welfare are conceptualised through the lenses of individual property rights and laissez-faire , on the one hand, or class domination and struggle on the other.

Liberal analyses of the family or religion, for example, stress their roles in personality stabilisation, socialisation or the transmission of morals and norms that enable social order to persist. Marxist analyses of these institutions make similar claims but stress their roles in enabling capitalist social order to persist. Liberal and Marxist theory are locked in a permanent contest, each asserting the primacy of competing principles of order and progress, each building conceptual schemes derived from opposing standpoints on the real, underlying essence of social life. The proposition that, beneath the apparent chaos of social life, there persists a principle of order or progress through which human destiny is realised is a philosophical commitment, not an empirical fact: it is an element in a theoretical scheme through which both historical change and contemporary experience can be interpreted.

In fact, such a proposition reiterates the philosophical frameworks of Enlightenment thought in that it upholds the search for the independent laws of the social and natural order. It implies the development of new concepts or the reinterpretation of existing concepts as well as a reformulation of the interpretive frameworks that make sense of observations about social life. As we saw in Part Two , neo-liberalism and poststructuralism attempt a reformulation of this magnitude and, in so doing, offer very different perspectives on the nature of social welfare and the effects of social policy.

At the same time, the reformulations are not without problems; both neo-liberal and poststructuralist critiques of Enlightenment theory raise unanswered theoretical questions. The anti-Enlightenment philosophy and theory of Hayek, Friedman and their neo-liberal adherents comprises a rich discourse on the problems and [Page ] prospects of the contemporary welfare state.

In contrast, neo-liberalism holds that the market is the measure of efficiency, the standard against which our very understandings of what should and should not be are judged. It achieves an efficient distribution of goods and services, it enables freely undertaken human intercourse and negotiation, it provides a forum in which skills can be exchanged and distributed and defines the values of commodities without reference to the power or status of their owners and controllers.

In short, it enables the free pursuit of individual life unfettered by collective obligation. Freedom is equated with freedom-to-act without the constraints imposed by a collectively organised normative ethics. It is, on the surface, a purely formal concept. The guarantee that all individuals are at liberty to engage equally in any activity sanctioned by the abstract legal code is the limit-point and defining feature of the neo-liberal free society.

The substantive fact that not all individuals can in reality equally engage in such actions — because of material barriers to participation such as insufficient individual resources or group-exclusionary strategies — does not, for neo-liberals, undermine the normative value of an approach based on formal equality.

Thus, the concept of freedom in neo-liberal thought is tied intrinsically to political principles. The absence of a politics of freedom — for neo-liberals an absence embodied in the social democratic structures of the welfare state — engenders an enslavement and serfdom of the whole society. Breaking out of this enslavement is equivalent to repoliticising the relations between individuals by strengthening the power of the market against the welfare state. Whilst neo-liberals do not claim that the market can do everything — for example, there remains a role for the [Page ] state in providing national security and minimal welfare and infrastructural services — it none the less functions, theoretically, as the organic structure of social organisation, meeting needs and fulfilling human instinctual drives.

In this way, the market is held to comprise not only the most efficient, but also the only natural mechanism of social reproduction. There are two problems with this conception worthy of particular note, one relating to historiography, the other relating to anthropology. At the heart of Hayek's system of ideas is his conception of the nature of knowledge and its place in a market system. However, this conception rests on an idiosyncratic use of philosophical argument and a one-dimensional account of historical and evolutionary change. Now, in contrast, societies are complex and — from the individual's point of view — apparently chaotic.

Modern individuals have no hope of grasping, in its totality, the knowledge required to regulate society in a rational way. Indeed, no single collective body including the state could hope to do this either, since the knowledge required outstrips in its range and complexity any possibility of consciously organising social relationships. Because no individual can ever grasp explicitly all the knowledge about society's functioning there has to be a mechanism by which elements of such knowledge can be transmitted to individuals where and when necessary. However, this thesis is problematic in several respects.

There are not just two types of knowledge but a plethora of knowledges with their own special characteristics. Many of these knowledges are vested in and tied to specific social groups who patently do not enter them into the market for distribution. This has been the case historically and remains so in present-day society. The burning of women healers in post-medieval Europe with the dawn of a male-controlled medical profession testifies to the struggles in which different types of knowledge are locked.

Social groups — and especially professions — develop exclusionary tactics precisely for the purpose of restricting access to knowledge in order to further their collective interests and material positions in society Witz, A second notable problem is that Hayek, and neo-liberal theory in [Page ] general, has a very limited understanding of social anthropology. Hayek trained initially as a micro economist before turning his attention to political philosophy, so the limitation is perhaps not surprising in his case.

Hayek has no theoretical or substantive warrant for arguing that societies in prehistory operated as he says they did. Anthropological work contemporaneous with Hayek's writing contested this myth with some force. It is reasonable to suppose that the same complexity should hold in contemporary societies. Additionally, if we cannot tell which is which then neither can we tell whether any given actor is drawing on the same tacit knowledge as any other given actor. Thus, it is just as legitimate to argue that an uncontrolled market produces chaos, disadvantage, discrimination, domination and exploitation by distributing totally inappropriate forms of information and resources, based on the uncoordinated tacit knowledges of individuals, as it is to argue that the uncontrolled market provides a valuable service by distilling such knowledge for distribution out of the chaos of human life.

Hayek provides no basis upon which to assert which of these interpretations is warranted from his theory. These two problems — of historical and anthropological inaccuracy — are carried into the work of other neo-liberals who base their arguments on Hayek's philosophical system. Focusing on the decline in individual responsibility and duty that these developments are said to generate, Green argues for a return to ideals of duty and civic welfare delivered within an apolitical community.

There are at least two major difficulties here. First, Green accepts the premise that markets are necessary to accommodate the wide range of values and [Page ] wants existing in any modern society. The state cannot legislate for outcomes because there can be no consensus on social goals in the plurality of competing values.

Yet, having accepted value-plurality as a characteristic of modern life, Green argues simultaneously for an apolitical civil society in which everyone shares common values and morals in relation to duty and responsibility for welfare. This same tension runs throughout Hayek's work, where value-plurality is held up as a desirable feature to be protected by the market against the encroachments of the state but where, at the same time, families and other social institutions are held to be the transmitters of the traditional values that uphold market structures.

Quite how these opposing conceptions of cultural values and practices can be held within the same theoretical framework is not explained. The second problem is that Green accuses the cultural changes of the s of undermining individual responsibility for self-maintenance, counterposing this development to the nineteenth century where duty prevailed. This represents an astonishing reading or mis-reading of historical change. The nineteenth century, as we saw in Part One , was a period of intense political struggle around political power and against poverty and injustice.

The development of welfare states has been subject to a variety of pressures and forces often directed at offsetting the dire consequences of market-generated inequalities such as starvation, disease, unfit working conditions, lack of basic resources such as housing and clean water and so on.

Such struggles were fought on the basis of the unwillingness and absolute incapacity of market entrepreneurs to cater for basic human needs. The second half of the twentieth century is filled with examples of such struggles: black civil rights activism in America and Catholic activism in Ireland, for example, were aimed at forcing state intervention to offset material disadvantage and social discrimination. Struggles by women for sex equality in work and welfare benefits are a continuing feature of welfare reforms across the world. Neo-liberal theorists write histories and accounts of state interventions as if this element of struggle had no bearing upon the forms that both market and state provisions have taken.

Such historical amnesia denies the significance of political struggle in wresting even [Page ] minor benefits from economic systems that systematically and comprehensively discriminate in favour of already-entrenched interests. Furthermore, there is no evidence to support the neo-liberal mantra of declining responsibility for welfare provision.

Theorising Welfare - Enlightenment and Modern Society (Hardcover)

The social policy literature is filled with studies of informal and community care, pointing to the role of predominantly, but not exclusively women in providing the informal care that has underpinned and made possible the formal sector of care. From the care of elderly people, mentally and physically disabled people, young people, through to financial and other support for family and friends, women and families have been the bedrock of welfare services. Changes in the position of women and in family formations have not led to the abandonment of this role.

Morgan decries the decline of the traditional family which she sees as a result of the impact of feminism. More importantly, the view of the family contained in neo-liberal theory is simplistic and romanticised, seriously underestimating, and often completely neglecting, sexual and physical violence within families. In these ways, neo-liberalism has as many affinities with romantic conservatism as it does with classical liberalism Gray, The charge of neo- conservatism has been levelled also against both poststructuralist and postmodern philosophy Habermas, , although, in our view, these two perspectives represent somewhat different approaches to the activity of theorising.

The rejection of poststructuralism in much mainstream social theory and social policy is rooted in a desire to maintain a unique rational standard around which the efficacy and acceptability of political projects can be assessed and measured. On this basis, the critique of poststructuralist theory centres on two closely related sets of questions: on the validity of poststructuralism's analytical categories a conceptual-cum-methodological critique and a critique of the standpoint or lack [Page ] thereof from which poststructuralist theory views the world a methodological-cum-political critique.

It comprises a redefinition of terms and concepts in the theoretical framework that Foucault adopted to interpret the relationships between past and present and between the subjects and objects of knowledge. In this respect, Foucault's thesis has affinities with Wittgenstein's philosophy of language games — where languages and meanings are active elements of a community's way of living. On the contrary, the meanings that language provides are embedded in the actions and relationships through which everyday life is organised and carried out.

Theorising Welfare: Enlightenment and Modern Society

Foucault's philosophy, however, attempts to radicalise this perspective further, suggesting that meanings are not neutral expressions of social relationships but are exercises of power, opening up and objectifying some of those relationships and closing off or repressing others. The order of the world is not reflected in knowledge about it; rather, the world is ordered through discourse through power—knowledge.

The medieval world of God and faith, evil and sin, of inexplicable disaster and catastrophe is not a false world that has been superseded by the true world of particles and matter, rationality and science, of knowable laws, causes and effects. The two worlds represent different orders of discourse that invest different meanings and truths in experience and perception.

A clear problem with such a radicalised discourse theory is that it becomes at least very difficult, and potentially impossible, to know the meaning of anything. The problem applies to Foucault's own perspective as much as to the effort to theorise through Foucault's philosophy. If the meaning of the world is given in orders of discourse, the grounds on which meanings might be shared or communicated become very slippery — is it necessary to identify the discursive order before a meaning can be [Page ] grasped? If so, what is the order of discourse in which Foucault's concepts and categories make sense?

This question is one that applies also to Foucault's interpreters. Similar problems are encountered in relation to theories that treat professional knowledges such as law or medicine, for example as discourse in their own right. Whilst it may be the case that lawyers and doctors and judges, social workers, psychologists, police officers, and others may struggle over the control of social rights and obligations, this does not imply that there is an automatic correspondence between such struggles and the discourses in which medical and legal, and so on, knowledges are formulated and transmitted.

Similarly, the marking of bodies and identities with differences need not be understood as an abstract expression of culture, as Gatens proposes, nor simply as an effect of discursive relations. The mobilisation or manipulation of cultural symbols and signs that realise marked bodies and identities may equally be theorised as a social process of domination, classification or even resistance or a combination of all three. Here, the relationships between signs, symbols and identificatory practices may be related to the interests, goals or projects of individuals and groups struggling over specific inequalities or oppressions.

Such struggles, in turn, may relate to more extensive dimensions of social or economic exploitation of which the individuals and groups may themselves be unaware. The point, here, is not to argue that discourses or meanings are not in themselves contradictory or antagonistic. Rather, it is to note that there may be non-discursive reasons why this is the case or non-discursive causes of such contradictions and antagonisms.

If the entirety of experience and perception is conceptualised as a feature of discourse, the question arises [Page ] as to the standpoint from which such a claim can be issued. Applying this sort of questioning to poststructuralist theorising leads into a series of circular arguments about the respective value of the view from within and the view from outside discourse.

Underlying the circularity is a more fundamental issue that characterises both poststructuralist and neo-liberal theory, namely the rejection of the claim that the social whole can be known in and of itself, that there is a type of knowledge or a way of knowing in and through which the real or essential basis of the social world can be grasped and reflected in the form of a theory or a science. Both Hayek and Foucault dismiss this claim as a fiction. Hayek dismisses it on the basis that it represents an inflated sense of self-importance on the part of the social scientist, resulting from a distortion of Enlightenment rationality.

In theoretical terms, the anti-Enlightenment philosophies of neo-liberalism and poststructuralism represent contemporary limit points of a reconfiguration of social theory in which the idea of a historical telos in human societies and the search for an underlying causal mechanism of their change or progress are abandoned.

The shift in perspective has resulted in a focus on the relationships between discontinuous social forces in, rather than on the continuous succession of, human societies. On the one hand, recalling Marxist critical theory, reflexivity refers to an immanent critique of social processes. Such a critique contends that the processes that sustain or realise a specific organisation of social life contain within them the logics of its transformation.

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In other words, social organisation is inherently unstable and precarious, subject to multiple dynamics that push and pull institutions, discourses and traditions in many directions simultaneously. On the other hand, reflexivity refers to the acknowledgement that social experience and social perception are, at least partially, constituted in discourse. As we noted in Chapter 5 , three issues in particular are highlighted in contemporary theories of the political economy of welfare. First, they draw attention to the relationship between national and international economic organisation.

Welfare states display a dual characteristic. On the one hand, they are designed to offer at least some form of minimal protection against the vagaries of the market to citizens of the national economy. On the other hand, they also act as a form of social organisation designed to assist the national economy in the face of international competition. They look both inwards and outwards, oriented towards the social maintenance of the citizenry and the market success of the economy.

Changes in the organisation of one of these characteristics has immediate impacts on the organisation of the other. During the first half of the twentieth century the industrial and extractive sectors of the economy — steel, coal, ship-building, chemicals, automobile manufacture, light engineering — provided the basis for economic development. Keynesian Welfare States were predicated on continued growth and competitiveness in these economic sectors and the work patterns and methods of profit accumulation that these implied. In other words, the welfare state and the industrial system amounted to an interlocking, mutually supportive socio-economic structure.

Entire communities, ways of life, identities and social norms were rooted in this socio-economic structure. Under pressures of globalisation, it is not only the market economy which changes but the structure itself and its interlocking mechanisms — including patterns of socialisation, norms and types of employment, community networks and the identities of their members. The changed circumstances imply that welfare systems designed for an industrial manufacturing economy are unable to sustain either new forms of socio-economic organisation or manage the increasing complexity of political divisions.

Second, the myriad changes wrought by globalisation connect closely with shifts in the organisation and distribution of employment-related benefits. The British Keynesian Welfare State and its institutions, for example, was underpinned by policies for full employment and industrial growth, a policy framework based on easing the transition between work and non-work — whether the latter is a result of unemployment, sickness, age or education. The social insurance system has been geared towards a norm of secure, permanent employment for the majority of household heads.

However, postwar social and economic change has served to undermine such assumptions and norms. For example, although women's employment is not a postwar phenomenon, during the postwar period considerable numbers of men have been displaced from the workforce whilst women have entered the labour market in large numbers, tending to be concentrated in part-time, insecure and often low-paid work.

At the same time as state welfare provision is being increasingly residualised, greater responsibility for caring and welfare functions is accruing to women in workplaces, their homes and communities. There are two immediate consequences arising from this shift in employment patterns. First, as more women enter the labour market, the link-worker role comes under increasing strain. Women are less available to undertake the roles of nurturing, supporting and organising household needs, undermining assumptions about traditional family forms and the support services they provide, motivating a search for policy frameworks to reconcile the family—employment nexus throughout Western Europe Hantrais and Letablier, Second, part-time and low-paid work has both in-work and out-of-work consequences.

Low pay also means low or no insurance contributions towards retirement and less income in retirement. The diminished amounts being paid in taxation and insurance contributions result in less revenue for benefits and services at a time when there is more demand for these. In these respects new employment patterns have both social and fiscal welfare consequences. The changes in work patterns and their impacts on family structures draw attention to the final issue raised by the post-political economy perspectives, namely the extent to which contemporary societies are characterised by fragmentation, social fracture and polarisation.

Economic globalisation and the parallel dynamics of socio-economic reorganisation intensify existing social divisions and bring to the foreground previously obscured or neglected forms of exclusion and discrimination. Patterns of production and work have an impact on family structures and households but the latter are also strongly influenced by changing cultural and political mores. The growth of sweated and migrant labour, the intensified racial stratification of class relations and the patriarchal regulation of minority ethnic women's labour identified by Lash and Urry comprise institutional clusters in which family, state and economy intersect in the organisation of racism.

Whilst the contemporary world appears very different from its prewar predecessor, this does not necessarily indicate a transition to a new form of socio-economic organisation. Although lacking a clear monocausal mechanism of change and a final end-state to historical development, contemporary political economy retains a familiar evolutionary typology found in social theory.

So just as industrial society replaced agrarian society, the information society is replacing industrial society, more or less in the same evolutionary way. In contrast, Kumar argues, continuity , not change, is what characterises contemporary societies. The techniques and technologies of production may have been modified but capitalist societies remain organised around the same principles and objectives as always Kumar, 24—5, 32—4.

In short, the conception of a radical break in social development is greatly overestimated, its evolutionary underpinnings overstating the degree, and the mechanisms, of change. The neo-Marxisms of Lash and Urry and Jessop a, passim are intended to overcome this problem by emphasising either the flows of capital or the double dynamic of capitalist development rather than the functional determination by capital of state structures and policies.

None the less, through these concepts both the disorganised capitalism thesis and the post-Fordist paradigm attempt to theorise the transition from a capitalism of the nation-state to a capitalism of the global order which has consequences for welfare politics.

These consequences, however, are not accepted by all commentators. For example, the argument that social-structural change generates greater and more complex social divisions, has been criticised on the grounds that it underplays the historical continuity of both social fragmentation and class divisions in modern societies. This conflation, it is argued, ignores the persistence of the bourgeoisie's control of economic wealth in capitalist societies, the capacity of wealth owners to influence political processes and the transmission of privilege from one generation to another Hout et al.

Increasing differences between classes in relation to the distribution of wealth and power are said to attest to the continuing salience of class categories. Hout et al, for example, argue that:. The complexities of political strategies and tactics make the distinction between class as a causal agent and class or inequality as an object of discussion absolutely critical.

The underestimation of social fragmentation is visible in Offe's comments on the political implications for welfare state development of social divisions and the undermining of social solidarity entailed by these divisions. Both the fragmentation of workers and the stratifications in tax and benefit provisions have been evident throughout the postwar period. Contemporary theories of political economy also underestimate important social processes around gender and ethnicity.

This conception of roles, responsibilities and actions, however, does not account for their gendered and racialised character. Why it is that economies and welfare organisations should be dependent on or reproduce a gendered division of paid work and domestic labour is a question that lies outside the theoretical framework of the Regulation Approach. The transformation of the Keynesian Welfare State into a Schumpeterian Workfare State or the transition from organised to disorganised welfare does not simply have different effects for different ethnic and gender groups; the logics of transformation are themselves rooted in the gendered and racialised networks of the imperial system.

The focus on income-maintenance policies has been criticised as an overly restrictive conception of what comprises welfare policy. Feminists Orloff, ; Sainsbury, have been sceptical of this approach for a number of reasons. First, to determine the position of women in any regime type requires establishing whether women's entitlement to benefit is granted on an individual basis or whether it is attached to marriage status.

Women's role in the family has many implications for understanding the relationship between commodification and decommodification. For example, the countries which score highest on the decommodification index, those with the greatest degree of universalism, have a large labour market participation rate for women, meaning that women's labours are commodified to a large extent in decommodified systems. Yet in conservative countries in the corporatist model their labour is more likely to be decommodified, perhaps because of the priority attached to the traditional gendered division of labour in these countries.

Examining outcomes rather than policies also yields a different regime classification. Decommodification can be achieved by a variety of policy instruments; whereas Australia scores low on this measure when assessed on income-maintenance systems, it has been pointed out that Australia has concentrated on achieving some measure of pre-tax, pre-transfer income equality, mainly by maintaining wage levels.

The point here is that taking into account other policy priorities and measures results in yet further regime clusters Hill, 46—7. The wealth of research comparing aspects of welfare state provision has been approached from qualitative as well as quantitative perspectives, charting the historical development of welfare states in terms of the institutional, political and ideological characteristics of particular countries, and providing further different classifications. We have emphasised the difficulties of using comparative social policy approaches to theorising the emergence of postindustrial societies, because the problems of measurement and comparison are germane to all of the political economy perspectives that we outlined in Chapter 5.

In order for such theories to maintain their validity it is necessary that the units of comparison are roughly equivalent. Yet it is a moot point whether the Germany, Italy, United States, Sweden and Britain of the later nineteenth century really comprised equivalent political, economic and social units. Italy did not become a nation-state in the manner of Britain and France, for example, until unification under the King of Savoy between and Germany unified under Prussian dominance in the s following the Franco-Prussian War.

In the European context it is only after the signing of the Versailles Treaty in that a map of European nation-states passably recognisable by contemporary standards came into existence Hobsbawm, b: 88—9; c: — In social policy and sociology there is very little literature on the relationships between social welfare and environmental change and almost none at all that deals with the connections between social welfare systems and environmental exploitation. The environment is rapidly becoming an issue for social welfare because, increasingly, it is an arena of struggles over distributive and allocative strategies around resources: clean air and water, common space, productive soils, and so on.

The theories of political ecology that we outlined in Chapter 6 indicate that these are struggles over welfare in the widest sense of that term. In social welfare terms, however, we need to ask not simply what rights and freedoms, obligations and duties are contested and distributed but how are they contested and distributed: both who has what rights and undertakes what duties and what are the processes by which this distribution is achieved?

The consequence of this, however, is that, since everyone is responsible, no one is liable for actual environmental destruction. Theories of political ecology do not necessarily advance much beyond this position, either. One effect of this generalised liability is that, as Beck notes, the environmentalist critique of modern industrial organisation draws on the very scientific specialisms and knowledges that it charges with complicity in damaging the environment see also Yearley, Part of the reason for [Page ] this is that these discourses have become one of the few ways, in the public domain, of challenging the power of bureaucratic and commercial institutions in their increasing encroachment on to and control over environmental resources.

Theories of political ecology are confronted also with the problem of disentangling the social welfare aspects of the critique from the moral philosophical aspects. As we saw in Chapter 6 , concepts of ecological citizenship provide some useful ways of understanding the political dimensions of local struggles over environmental change. Who has what rights and what responsibilities and how are these to be encoded so that they can be understood and realised by people? Similarly, if rights are to be awarded to non-human species, how will these non-human species be able to realise them?

What court of appeal will hear a claim of discrimination or maltreatment from a heifer cow or a cockroach? Does a virus or bacterium have rights or responsibilities? These questions emerge in political ecologies of welfare because they are strongly normative: the critique of actually existing political ecologies the critique of the ways that the connections between social and environmental processes are currently organised rests on the proposition that things must be changed in order to offset catastrophe.

However, what has to change and how change should be undertaken are not easily derivable from the theories of political ecology. The most developed positions rest on non-environmental politics — notably feminism, anarchism and socialism — such that theories of political ecology end up in the service of political projects that, in themselves, are not necessarily environmentally friendly. That there are environmental problems of some kind is disputed by hardly anyone at all. Precisely what these problems are and whether and how people should respond to them is disputed by just about everyone.

Is the fragmentation in environmental disputes a contingent outcome of people's divergent projects, or does the fragmentation indicate something more fundamental about social and political processes in the modern world? This question goes beyond the theoretical scope of political ecology. In fact, in some version or other, it lies at the heart of debates about postmodernism.

It can be argued that the differences of perspective and the divergences in social and political projects expose acts of resistance to dominant scientific and bureaucratic strategies of centralising knowledge about and control over more and more aspects of people's lives. In spite of the tendency of environmental campaigners to adopt scientific and bureaucratic discourses in their struggles over ecological destruction, environmental disputes continue to pit local knowledges and anti-scientific discourses against them.

Disputes around environmental change can be said to indicate the plurality of voices through which social and political struggles are conducted. Moreover, they indicate that contestation and conflict are endemic to social and political organisation. Different environmental and historical relations are organised through struggle and dispute and, in the process of struggle different identities, statuses, meanings and perspectives are centralised and marginalised, excluded and included. For some, this type of argument is just too much.

Theorising Welfare, Enlightenment and Modern Society by Martin O'Brien | | Booktopia

Others reject postmodernism's apparent dissolution of the emancipatory ideal and accuse postmodernism of a gesture politics that functions as an apologetics for the status quo Norris, If there is no underlying unity to the social world, if social life is inherently fractured and contestatory, if there are several axes of domination and if even the concepts and logics through which the world is understood in social theory are complicit with power relations, how can an emancipatory political programme be realised? How, even, is it possible to know if things are changing for the better or worse?

This endorsement is attractive in so far as it gives recognition to groups who, historically, have been ignored, excluded or silenced. However, there is a theoretical as well as a moral dimension to the endorsement, one that is not so straightforwardly attractive. But the activity of identity is much more complex in postmodern theory than in, say, symbolic interactionism where identities are negotiated between people using common symbols , in that it is inescapably political.

The validation of multiple voices simultaneously confronts the problem of what those voices are saying or, in other words, the problem of interpretation. A great deal of postmodern analysis focuses on textual material — deconstructing the narrative forms through which textual meanings are [Page ] organised.

In extending the analytical agenda beyond written or visual texts, however, postmodern theory encounters non-narrative ways of organising meanings. In other words, the social worlds in which multiple voices express claims, realise identities and dispute meanings are subject to processes of physical, economic and military exploitation which may persist in spite of the multi-faceted character of modern identities.

Theoretically, the question arises as to whether it is necessary — or helpful — to theorise the social world through located identities in order to grasp the influence of military or economic institutions on social change and social experience. To put this point in reverse, is it not more feasible to theorise the multiplicity of located identities through, for example, the militaristic, economic and political domination of everyday life by highly organised vested interests controlling powerful institutions?

A final criticism that can be applied to postmodern perspectives concerns the extent to which they are often dependent on the logics and conceptual categories that are the target of their radical critique. The means by and conditions through which individual and collective welfare are achieved or undermined are the focus of intense political action and social struggle. From conditions of employment to the regulation of family life, from the availability of shelter to rights over the environment and its resources, from the classification of social membership or personal need to the management of industrial and municipal waste, social welfare is embedded in a wide range of political, economic and cultural relationships.

Thus, to reflect on the acquisition or maintenance of welfare is to reflect on the operations of economies, the procedures of political rule, the categories of cultural definition and classification, and the interactions between social and environmental change. To theorise welfare is to theorise public and private, institutional and communal networks of action and struggle.

These concerns have been central to the development of Western philosophical and theoretical thought. From the philosophies of the Enlightenment — with their attempts to situate human societies within grand, [Page ] meta-theoretical understandings of the relationships between individuals, communities, state power, political representation, economic development and nation-building — to the post-Enlightenment, reflexive paradigms outlined in Part Three , the organisation of these relationships has been the basis of social theory.

Such concerns endure in part because human societies are characterised by both continuity and change: each generation lives through rapidly changing economic and cultural processes, yet at the same time, each generation experiences social division and inequality. In Enlightenment thought, the perfectibility of the individual and the progress of the social whole were bound together as both political and philosophical commitments. The purpose of theorising society was to theorise the potential for a progressive expansion in the welfare of both individual human beings and the social totalities of which they were members.

For many, the Enlightenment offered a vision of a world of human affairs in which predictability and control could be effected to a degree previously unimaginable. Important currents in contemporary social theory undermine this faith in predictability and control, pointing instead to the limited capacity of individuals and nations to direct and order the complex, local and global networks and relationships governing modern life. As Townsend has argued, welfare policy can no longer limit itself only to the national arena but must address the connections between the local and the global.

As we have seen, addressing such connections, necessitates an encounter with political, economic and cultural forces and recognising the structural changes to which they give rise. We end our assessment of theoretical perspectives in welfare analysis by reaffirming a proposition that we made in the Introduction: there is not and cannot be a single, total or complete theory of welfare.

Some theories provide insights into political economy, some into political ecology, some into cultural expressions of identity, inclusion and exclusion. Theories offer prospects and limitations for understanding social welfare and encourage critical perspectives on the world. CQ Press Your definitive resource for politics, policy and people. Remember me? Back Institutional Login Please choose from an option shown below. Need help logging in? Click here. Don't have access? View purchasing options. Online ISBN: Online Publication Date: December 20, Print Purchase Options. Copy to Clipboard. View Copyright Page [Page iv].

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