While social welfare programs, often inspired by international
organizations, are spreading throughout the world, the more
far-reaching notion of governmental responsibility for the basic
well-being of all members of a political society is not, although
it remains a feature of Europe and the former British Commonwealth.
The welfare state in the European sense is not simply an
administrative arrangement of various measures of social protection
but a political project embedded in distinct cultural traditions.
Offering the first accessible account in English of the historical
development of the European idea of the welfare state, this book
reviews the intellectual foundations which underpinned the road
towards the European welfare state, formulates some basic concepts
for its understanding, and highlights the differences in the
underlying structural and philosophical conditions between
continental Europe and the English-speaking world.
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