Keywords: Welfare State, Ardigò, Agency-structure, Care, Social Control.
This paper highlights how the historical-sociological reconstruction of the birth and diffusion of the welfare state in industrialized countries carried out by Achille Ardigò in his essay Introduction to the Sociological Analysis of the Welfare State and its Transformations constitutes a milestone for the sociology of welfare. The analysis of the Italian sociologist’s considerations deepens the debate inherent in the functions of care and control of the system whose phenomenology outlines universalization of services and personalization of intervention. We argue that Ardigò sees the welfare state as a necessary modality for the life of developed societies. It is a social technology that contributes to the mediation between subjective meaning in life, essential for individual life, and social life meanings. This reading thus recalls the sociological debate declined as the agency-structure relationship.