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The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State

By Asbjørn Wahl

In an age of government imposed austerity, and after 30 years of neoliberal restructuring, the future of the welfare state looks increasingly uncertain. Asbjørn Wahl offers an accessible analysis of the situation across Europe, identifies the most important challenges and presents practical proposals for combating the assault on welfare.

Wahl argues that the welfare state should be seen as the result of a class compromise forged in the 20th century, which means that it cannot easily be exported internationally. He considers the enormous shifts in power relations and the profound internal changes to the welfare state which have occurred during the neo-liberal era, pointing to the paradigm shift that the welfare state is going through. This is illustrated by the shift from welfare to workfare and increased topdown control.

As well as being a fascinating study in its own right that will appeal to students of economics and politics, The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State also points to an alternative way forward for the trade union movement based on concrete examples of struggles and alliance building.

This is what Susan George writes about the book: This scholarly and thoughtful yet accessible book is relevant to the whole of Europe and the world. The social model of the Welfare State is one of the greatest conquests in the entire history of human emancipation and the ongoing attempt to destroy it is a crime against humanity. We should read it, learn from it and organise so as to fight back with all our strength.

And the General Secretary of the PSI, Peter Waldorff, says: An important contribution to the current debate about the future of the welfare state. A must read for debaters and policy makers who seek inspiration.” <Book review by Pluto Press>

ISBN: 9780745331409
Extent: 240pp
Release Date: 20 Nov 2011
Size: 215mm x 135mm
Format: Hardback
Illustrations: 10 figures, 4 tables
Find out more from the publisher

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Books to read

Read the book review by Ingemar Lindberg on Global Restructuring, Labour and the challenges for Transnational Solidarity (Routhledge 2010)

Now published. The Rise and Fall of the Welfare State by Asbjørn Wahl from Pluto Press

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