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The political economy of the welfare state: briefly revisited

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When the manuscript for The Political Economy of the Welfare State (PEWS) was submitted to the publishers in 1978, Jim Callaghan was Labour Prime Minister, the Pound Sterling had been bailed out by the IMF, class struggle was openly waged by miners, printers, municipal workers and other groups while The Times was calling for a government of national unity. Abroad, Jimmy Carter was President of the US and Leonid Brezhnev of the USSR, Mao had only recently died and Communist China was poised to introduce Deng’s reforms, the Berlin Wall symbolized a divided Europe and the EEC had just nine members. The ideas of ‘globalization’, ‘welfare regimes’, feminist perspectives on welfare and ‘postmodern welfare’ had not surfaced. The world is almost unrecognizable three decades on. This essay revisits ‘The Political Economy of the Welfare State’ (PEWS) and discusses its relevance in the context of the latest global developments. The key conclusion is that at a time when capital-in-general is developing unprecedented economic power across vast zones of the globe, when certain nation states wield unprecedented administrative and military power, when new global institutions are invented and outfitted to manage the processes of globalization, when new political movements begin to respond to these developments in the name of anti-globalization and anti-consumerism, it would be strange at such a time to discard the insights of political economy. In terms of social policy, it would mean surrendering the big topics of inequality and poverty, control and autonomy, needs and wants without a fight. Keywords: Political Economy, Welfare State, Globalisation, Welfare State Author(s)

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en

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http://eprints.lse.ac.uk/36670/

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