Democracy, Justice, and the Welfare State

Reconstructing Public Care

By (author) Julie Anne White

Paperback - £24.95

Publication date:

15 June 2000

Length of book:

192 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271020037

The commitment to “end welfare as we know it” shaped public policy in the 1990s. Analysts all seemed to agree that public welfare programs were a resounding failure. What should better public care look like?

Democracy, Justice, and the Welfare State sets up a dialogue between work on the ethic of care and studies of public care in practice. White argues that care as it is currently institutionalized often both assumes and perpetuates dependency and so paternalistic relationships of authority. Better public care requires that such paternalistic practices be challenged. Care appropriate to a democratic context must itself be a democratic practice.

“This is an extremely clear, thoughtful, and sophisticated treatment of a range of issues surrounding the relationships among care, needs, justice, and democracy. It is a discussion that is informed by two case studies, but its major focus is upon the kinds of conceptual conclusions to which a consideration of these experiences directs our attention. Julie Anne White seeks to relocate the idea of care (away from the ‘independent’ rights-bearing individual) upon terrain where it is not vulnerable to the critique of neoliberals. But, at the same time, she resists certain conventional formulations of needs and of justice as (impartial) fairness—formulations that tend to devalue actors’ own accounts of their needs and, with it, their autonomy. Her appeal is to reconstruct care on the model of dialogic and discursive democracy.”

—Chris Pierson, Author of Beyond the Welfare State?