Pub. date: 2011 | Online Pub. Date: October 04, 2011 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412994163 | Print ISBN: 9781412959636 | Online ISBN: 9781412994163 | Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
The expression welfare state denotes a number of policies through which the government provides protection against a predetermined set of social risks and needs. The term made its appearance in the political vocabulary of English-speaking countries during the 1930s and early 1940s. State activism in the social sphere dates back, however, to the second half of the 19th century and was essentially prompted by the modernization process and its accelerating pace throughout Western Europe. From an institutional viewpoint, the essence of the welfare state is the rights-based character of protection. Through social policies, the government defines rules and standards regarding resources and opportunities, which are considered to be highly relevant for individual life conditions and thus worthy of being “guaranteed” by state authority. In contemporary democracies, such rules and standards are typically incorporated in the notion of social citizenship. Being a citizen means to enjoy not only certain civil and ...