Welfare States in Transition
Department IV addresses social inequality as a key category in contemporary societal analysis. Researchers seek to analyse social-historical questions in light of the modern state’s historical involvement in social welfare policy. At the heart of the examination is the question of the preventative and compensatory regulation of market-induced, life-long relations of inequality through social policy. This focus leads us to examine closely a basic function of the welfare state that was subjected to many changes over the course of the twentieth century. In the sense of a ‘seismic history’ (Charles Maier), Department IV seeks to uncover different forms of perception, discursive processes, and the political coming to terms of social and economic fractures. Although Western European states initially confronted the challenges of the welfare state in similar ways, the different political, economic and sociocultural contexts in which these challenges unfolded proved to be highly relevant. Department IV seeks to draw out these differences in a European comparative perspective, at present focusing on the models put forward by Great Britain and the Federal Republic of Germany. Additionally, cases from elsewhere in Europe, as well as comparisons across the Atlantic are included in the analyses.