The ’Golden Age' of the welfare state in Europe was characterised by a strengthening of social rights as citizens became increasingly protected through the collective provision of income security and social services. The oil crisis, inflation and high unemployment of the 1970s largely saw the end of welfare expansion with critical voices claiming the welfare state had created an unbalanced focus on the social rights of individuals, above their responsibilities as citizens. During the 1980s many western countries developed contractual modes of thinking and regulation within welfare policy. Contractualism has proved a significant organising principle for public reforms in general, and for social policy reforms in particular as it embraces both a way of justifying certain welfare policies and of constructing specific socio-legal policy instruments. Engaging with both the critique of the welfare state and the subsequent policy responses, expert contributors in this book examine contractualism as a discourse, comprising principles and justifying ideas, and as a legal and social practice. Covering the international debate on conditionality they discuss European experiences with active social citizenship ideas and contractualism providing individual case studies and comparisons from a wide range of European countries.
’This excellent book increases our understanding of why people in vulnerable positions face ever more obligations when applying for social benefits. The book represents a major advancement in the study of the most ambivalent transformation in recent welfare state history.’ Johannes Kananen, University of Helsinki, Finland ’An impressive collection, ranging from political philosophy to social policy, from theories of rights and justice to European case studies on workfare and pensions. This book will surely serve as an important addition to the scholarship on the most crucial trend that is redefining welfare state institutions.’ Amir Paz-Fuchs, University of Sussex, UK and author of Welfare to Work: Conditional Rights in Social Policy