Foundations of the workfare state: reflections on the political transformation of the welfare state in Britain

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    The British ‘welfare state’ has been transformed. ‘Welfare’ has been replaced by a new ‘workfare’ regime (the ‘Work Programme’) defined by tougher state regulatory practices for those receiving out-of-work benefits. US-style mandatory community work programmes are being revived and expanded. This article, therefore, considers shifting public attitudes to work and welfare in Britain and changing attitudes to working-age welfare and out-of-work benefits in particular. It also considers the extent to which recent transformations of the state may be explained by declines in traditional labourist politics and class-based solidarity. Thus, we attempt to develop a richer understanding of changing public attitudes towards welfare and the punitive regulatory ‘workfare’ practices engaged by the modern state in the liberal market economy; reflecting on the nature of the relations between ideology, party policies, popular attitudes and their political impact.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)862–886
    Number of pages25
    JournalSocial Policy and Administration
    Issue number7
    Early online date24 Sep 2014
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2015


    • workfare
    • welfare state
    • social class
    • political parties
    • social attitudes
    • public opinion

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