Social Work & Society

Ambivalences of the Rising Welfare Service State – Hopes and Hazard of Modern Welfare Architectures

NEW: SW&S Special Issue (Vol 16, Issue 2 – 2018)

Since the 1980s welfare is under siege. Even if the post-war welfarism was only a short historical period in the modern society so far, it has to be seen as a step in the historiy of civilisation and also as a step to institutionalise some kind of social equality on the level of the nation state. After decades of transformation, we nowadays experience a shifted welfare state all over the OECD-countries.
In that context, social work and social services are experiencing a highly ambivalent development: Their own conceptual basics, like ‘user-orientation’, ‘self-responsibility’, or ‘activation’ and ‘empowerment’, have become main conceptual welfare strategies in the last years – even in a semantic version. At the same time social security (e.g. transfer income) is often and in some parts of the former ‘welfare-world’ heavily undermined in the last decades.
The logic of welfare service have been brought to the forefront and contemporaneously inequality is coming back in. This is why our Special Issue Editors are calling the transformed welfare state a ‘Welfare Service State”. This recommendation corresponds to a number of debates in the last years, like those about the concept of the ‘social investment’ and the ‘activation state’; on the ‘pedagogical turn’ in welfare; or on ‘consumerism and welfare’, to name only a few. This correspondences as well as a critical contextualisation of the concept of the “Welfare Service State” are what is discussed in the new Special Issue of Social Work & Society.

The SW&S Special Issue “Ambivalences of the Rising Welfare Service State – Hopes and Hazard of Modern Welfare Architectures” includes 24 papers on marketisation, globalisation, social citizenship, professional discretion, and on the developments in different fields of social policy and social work. This allows the readers of SW&S to get insights in the current situation and constellation in different regions of the former ‘world of welfarism’. Therefore, we are very thankful to our SW&S Special Issue Editors for making this issue happen.

The SW&S Co-Ordinating Office