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SPP 193

Author: Richard Rose, CSPP
Description: Conventional definitions of welfare are deficient on two points: they fail to distinguish between the state's role in the production of welfare and the contribution of other institutions in society, and between welfare in material terms and in terms of civil and political rights. The confusion is reflected in T.H. Marshall's classic description of the welfare state in England, which took civil and political rights for granted. But this is not valid in many societies.

We can distinguish regimes that grant both political rights and social benefits; those that do neither; those that grant social benefits without political rights, as in Soviet-style regimes; and those granting political rights without a strong commitment to social benefits, as in America and Japan. East European societies illustrate the importance of examining civil and political rights as well as welfare rights. The changes now underway in Eastern Europe are intended to expand the scope for a civil economy independent of the state, and social benefits that do not depend upon decisions of government.

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