New Left Review – Lena Lavinas: 21st Century Welfare

The social-protection paradigm that emerged at the end of the 19th century and developed, in parallel with the workers’ movements, during the 20th, aimed to protect and equalize access and opportunities, irrespective of income level and social status. In this model, the structure of social spending prized not only income security but above all the promotion of equity and convergence. By contrast, the hegemonic paradigm of the 21st century holds that market mechanisms are the key to improving general welfare; cash transfers and expanded household debt, the latter underwritten by the former, are the key elements in this framework, in which decommodified provision is to be pared to the barest bones. What is taking place—spurred on by the ‘success story’ of ccts—is a downsizing of social protection in the name of the poor. Over the past six years these programmes have benefited from boom conditions, as surplus capital flooded into ‘emerging economies’ from the crisis-stricken advanced capitalist zones. Yet how they will weather a reversal of capital flows and tightening of credit, if quantitative easing in the North finally starts to slow, remains to be seen.

via New Left Review – Lena Lavinas: 21st Century Welfare.

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