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date: 25 October 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter examines the premise of the competition state thesis, which highlights an incremental, undramatic, and peaceful transition of state form from welfare to “competition state.” According to this thesis, the basic institutions of the welfare state remain in place but are gradually trimmed, rearranged, and “refunctionalize[d]” to make society fit for competition. The competition state differs from the welfare state in the sense that it promotes “increased marketization” by liberalizing cross-border movements, re-commodifying labor, and privatizing public services. Whereas the welfare state domesticated capitalism, the competition state vies for capital. This chapter first considers some of the prominent proponents of competition state thesis, including Philip Cerny, Bob Jessop, and Joachim Hirsch. It then looks at the causal mechanisms allegedly driving the rise of the competition state thesis before highlighting its problems by focusing on three propositions: structural determinism, convergence, and the demise of the welfare state.

Keywords: competition state thesis, welfare state, marketization, capitalism, capital, Philip Cerny, Bob Jessop, Joachim Hirsch, structural determinism, convergence

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