The Making of Target Publics for Welfare Policies. From Targeting Practices to Resistances of Governed People

  • Lorenzo Barrault-StellaEmail author
  • Pierre-Edouard Weill
Part of the Logic, Argumentation & Reasoning book series (LARI, volume 17)


This opening chapter provides a general sociological framework for the contributions collected about the targeting practices in the institutional framework of the welfare State and the making of the “right” publics for social policies. The paper builds on the diversity of existing international research, before sketching out complementary lines of investigation in which this collective work is grounded. More specifically, we suggest the use of a comparative and multilevel approach, anchored in empirical research and mindful of the effective practices of targeting, as well as of the way in which the diverse groups within the potential publics react. Connecting in-depth case studies thus allows the observation of transformations occurring in modes of government at the international level. Finally, the text suggests a few ways in which the welfare State’s targeting practices can be reformulated, without obscuring the social relations and the various forms of inequalities (of class, race, gender) to which targeting participates.


Welfare state Target publics Multilevel analysis Comparison Individualization Inequalities 


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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.CRESPPA-CSU (UMR 7217), Centre National de Recherche ScientifiqueParisFrance
  2. 2.Lab-LEX (EA 7480), Université de Bretagne OccidentaleBrestFrance

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