|Some scholars of social policy claim that the traditional post war Keynesian Welfare State has been transformed towards a Schumpeterian Workfare State (Jessop 1994, Tor-fing 1999a). Others conceptualise welfare state reform as transformation towards an Enabling (Gilbert/Gilbert 1989), Activating (OECD 1990, Bandemer 2001, Mezger 2000) or Co-operative State (Schmid 1996). All these concepts have in common to be rather normative: While the ‘Workfare’ thesis underlines a negative scenario of enforced commodification of welfare state clients, authors proclaiming an activating, enabling or co-operative welfare state highlight the preventive and emancipatory aspects of new welfare state policies.
With reference to this controversy the author of the present paper, however, argues that the workfare and the enabling state are not alternative paths of development, but mutually constitutive concepts of welfare state transformation. Evidence for this argument is given by a comparison of activating labour market policies in most divergent Western European welfare states like Denmark, the UK and Germany.
Empirical findings indeed confirm that all countries implement a mix of workfare and enabling elements although displaying major variations due to different historical social policy paths. General characteristics of policy transformation are changing forms of governance. These include the reduction of welfare state protection by financial transfers and the increase of social and educational services. The introduction of contractual regulation puts forward individualisation and self responsibility, but also co-operation and co-production between the state and the individual. Seeking clients’ compliance, however, the state also increases sanctions and coercion. As a result of the reforms an increasing influence of the state on the individual’s living conduct is noticed.
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