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date: 08 March 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article describes what empirical-analytical research can learn from normative scholarship for the explanation of welfare state responses to needs and risks. It illustrates how welfare state theories have treated needs and risks, and makes some suggestions as to how they can do so more systematically. The article then turns to the empirical literature to portray the major challenges facing welfare states today. The policy challenge confronting post-industrial societies arises from the coexistence of new social needs and risk profiles with those enduring ‘Fordist’ needs that continue to lend strong support to traditional welfare state institutions. The governance of post-industrial welfare states will require a higher sensitivity to unvoiced but experienced needs if it is to retain its legitimacy and effectiveness in addressing social problems.

Keywords: welfare state, social needs, risks, policy, governance, legitimacy, social problems

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