The Meaning of Welfare

  • Ramesh Mishra


In the course of the detailed exposition of issues and arguments, the broader themes of a book inevitably recede into the background. The concluding section offers an opportunity to redress the balance — to bring some of the broader latent themes to the surface and to develop and emphasise some of the points made earlier in the text.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    As Hirsch points out, the school of Hayek and Friedman would ‘solve’ the problem of distributive justice by taking distribution ‘off the agenda’ of politics altogether. See Fred Hirsch, Social Limits to Growth (London: Routledge, 1977) p. 182.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    See Hirsch, Social Limits to Growth, especially Parts I and II; Daniel Bell, The Coming of Post-Industrial Society (London: Heinemann, 1974) especially chs 4 and 5.Google Scholar
  3. 3.
    Short of extremist solutions we are left with a number of alternatives that may be regarded as a variation on the theme of the welfare state. See, for example, J. T. Winkler, ‘The Coming Corporatism’, in The End of the Keynesian Era, ed. Robert Skidelsky (London: Macmillan, 1977).Google Scholar
  4. See also Ian Gough, The Political Economy of the Welfare State (London: Macmillan, 1979) ch. 7.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. 4.
    Certain Marxist ideologues and ‘radical’ sociologists (e.g. Gouldner) have helped to spread the idea that sociology is a ‘child’ of the welfare state. Anyone familiar with the sociological tradition will recognise that nothing could be farther from the truth. In fact mainstream, analytical sociology, from Spencer, Durkheim and Weber down to Parsons, Merton and Dahrendorf (to name only some of the leading thinkers), has shown very little interest in problems of social reform and the welfare state. What is true is that many social scientists including sociologists have always been involved in the study of practical issues and problems. Post-war affluence and the welfare state has certainly helped in the institutional expansion of the social sciences. But in this broad sense ‘Marxists of the Chair’ could also be seen as the progeny of the welfare state. It is worth emphasising that sociological theory and analysis has yet to address itself seriously to the issues of the welfare state. Morris Janowitz, Social Control of the Welfare State (Amsterdam: Elsevier, 1976) is a useful recent contribution.Google Scholar
  6. On the relationship of sociology and welfare see Goran Therborn, Science, Class and Society (London: New Left Books, 1976) ch. 5;Google Scholar
  7. Alvin W. Gouldner, The Coming Crisis of Western Sociology (London: Heinemann, 1971) pp. 21–3, ch. 9; Alan Wolfe, ‘Analyzing the Welfare State’, Theory and Society, vol. 6(2), 1978;Google Scholar
  8. Robert Pinker, Social Theory and Social Policy (London: Heinemann, 1971) ch. 1;Google Scholar
  9. Peter Townsend, Sociology and Social Policy (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976) ch. 1.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ramesh Mishra 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramesh Mishra
    • 1
  1. 1.McMaster UniversityOntarioCanada

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