Ghost in the Machine: The Keynesian Full Employment Welfare State

  • Geoffrey K. Fry


‘A Welfare State is a State in which organized power is deliberately used (through politics and administration) in an effort to modify the play of market forces in at least three directions’, wrote one of its historians. ‘First, by guaranteeing individuals and families a minimum income irrespective of the market value of their work or property; second, by narrowing the extent of insecurity by enabling individuals and families to meet certain “social contingencies” (for example, sickness, old age and unemployment) which lead otherwise to individual and family crises; and, third, by ensuring that all citizens without distinction of status or class are offered the best standards available in relation to a certain agreed range of social services.’ The same historian observed that ‘the first and second of these objects may be accomplished, in part at least, by what used to be called a Social Service State, a State in which communal resources are employed to abate poverty and to assist those in distress. The third objective, however, goes beyond the aims of a Social Service State. It brings in the idea of the “optimum” rather than the older idea of the “minimum”. It is concerned not merely with abatement of class differences or the needs of scheduled groups but with equality of treatment and the aspirations of citizens as voters with equal shares of electoral power.’1


White Paper Full Employment Employment Policy Labour Party Family Allowance 
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Copyright information

© Geoffrey K. Fry 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Geoffrey K. Fry
    • 1
  1. 1.University of LeedsUK

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