Massimo Paci

Welfare State and Cohesion of the National Society

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract


This article discusses the relationship between welfare state and cohesion of the national society comparing France, Sweden and Italy. Two main types of social solidarity are identified in the long term development of European welfare states: the "workers solidarity" and the "citizens solidarity". The first type is more congruent with the "occupational" or "corporatist" welfare state grounded on "the principle of work" (and on the system of social insurances); the second one is more congruent with the "universalistic" welfare state and the principle of "social citizenship ". Moreover, two recent trends of restructuring the welfare state are recalled: the decentralization of welfare institutions to regional and local levels and the growing role of European Union in this field. Both these trends favour the growth of the citizens solidariety and of the principle of social citizenship. France and Sweden are examined as two cases of strong cohesion of national society, although grounded on different types of social solidarity and welfare state. In Sweden, which developed early a universalistic welfare state, the recent trends of restructuring the welfare state reinforce the already strong cohesion of national society. In France, on the other side, this cohesion rests upon a corporatist welfare state and a persistent workers solidarity: in this case the recent trends seem to involve only functional adjustments of the system. Compared to France and Sweden, Italy has a "mixed" and less inclusive welfare state, along with a much weaker cohesion of its national society: in this case the question is whether the recent trends of restructuring the welfare state will help (or not) to develop a more "organic" welfare system and a stronger cohesion of society.

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