Beyond Postmodern Welfare

Establishing Unity Between Content, Process and Outcomes


Postmodern welfare values diversity but, in eschewing meta-narratives, it fragments and individualises society to produce atomised persons, each of whom looks after him or herself. Postmodern theorists argue that it is no longer possible to change society in substantial ways, if doing so relies on having a grand vision that requires meta-level analyses, changing macro-level structures or asking people to organise collectively to undertake change in these arenas. Consequently, providing welfare on an individual basis is inappropriate in an interdependent world, regardless of the tenets of neo-liberalism. In my view, postmodern welfare can be appropriated easily for profit-making by unaccountable entrepreneurs and the vagaries of the market. Postmodern critics of modern welfare states have engendered a sense of despair in people’s capacity to alter their environment, if it is based on dreams that seek to encompass everyone or encourage them to work in solidarity with each other.


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© Lena Dominelli 2002

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