Shifting Notions of Social Citizenship


Shifting Notions of Social Citizenship: The “Two Wests”
June 11-13, 2014

Organizers:
Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University
Maurizio Vaudagna, University of Eastern Piedmont (Italy)

Shifting Notions of Social Citizenship examines the impact of the decline of the welfare state on claims to social citizenship, and projects the consequences for democratic participation in Europe and the United States. Through a BEI grant, the organizers will convene a three-day international workshop in June, 2014 at the Columbia Global Centers-Europe. Sociologists, political scientists, contemporary historians, and theorists of social policy will explore how the decline of the welfare state will affect present and future conceptions of citizenship and political participation.

Over the course of the twentieth century, expanding welfare states, most effectively (though differently) modeled in Western Europe, helped to guarantee economic security. In the quest for a more inclusive social citizenship, nation-states variously subsidized education, housing and family maintenance, as well as unemployment insurance, old age pensions, minimum wages, labor standards, the dole, and health care. These benefits or rights, whether instituted by and through socialist, social democratic, or populist regimes—helped to constrain rampant capitalism and to empower working people to participate in democratic governance. But the “welfare state” is now at risk, disintegrating under the onslaught of a persuasive “free market” ideology and the spread of global economies that reduce the regulatory capacities of nation-states. And so the question: Can we imagine the perpetuation of democracy in the absence of the welfare state?

Shifting Notions of Social Citizenship: The “Two Wests”
June 11-13, 2014

Organizers:
Alice Kessler-Harris, Columbia University
Maurizio Vaudagna, University of Eastern Piedmont (Italy)

Shifting Notions of Social Citizenship examines the impact of the decline of the welfare state on claims to social citizenship, and projects the consequences for democratic participation in Europe and the United States. Through a BEI grant, the organizers will convene a three-day international workshop in June, 2014 at the Columbia Global Centers-Europe. Sociologists, political scientists, contemporary historians, and theorists of social policy will explore how the decline of the welfare state will affect present and future conceptions of citizenship and political participation.

Over the course of the twentieth century, expanding welfare states, most effectively (though differently) modeled in Western Europe, helped to guarantee economic security. In the quest for a more inclusive social citizenship, nation-states variously subsidized education, housing and family maintenance, as well as unemployment insurance, old age pensions, minimum wages, labor standards, the dole, and health care. These benefits or rights, whether instituted by and through socialist, social democratic, or populist regimes—helped to constrain rampant capitalism and to empower working people to participate in democratic governance. But the “welfare state” is now at risk, disintegrating under the onslaught of a persuasive “free market” ideology and the spread of global economies that reduce the regulatory capacities of nation-states. And so the question: Can we imagine the perpetuation of democracy in the absence of the welfare state?