Ervasti, Heikki, Jergen Goul Andersen, Torben Fridberg, and Kristen Ringdal, eds. The Future of the Welfare State: Social Policy Attitudes and Social Capital in Europe. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 2012. x + 276 pages. Hardcover, $110.00.
Contemporary European welfare states face rising pressures from growing demand and financial reductions. While their survival rests on several economic, political, and social factors, the editors of The Future of the Welfare State assert that welfare policies need to be "rooted in ordinary people's attitudes, preferences, and willingness to maintain welfare arrangements" (p. x). Consequently, this collection's twelve essays from a team of sociologists offer empirical analyses exploring individual and macro-level determinants of welfare policy attitudes among several European countries as well as drawing conclusions for the future. All but one essay is based on the new module in the 2008 European Social Survey (ESS), entitled "Welfare Attitudes in a Changing Europe," which "makes possible more comprehensive comparative analyses of welfare attitudes than previously was possible" (p. x). Due to the reliance on the ESS, the editors include an appendix explaining it in greater detail. Individual essays generally examine welfare attitudes in relation to four aspects of the welfare state, described as old and new risks and perceptions of risk; migration, diversity, and solidarity; welfare services and changing family structures; and the welfare state's impact and performance. The first three are derived from Asa Briggs's classic definition of the welfare state. For comparative analysis, the contributors develop five European welfare state models, three of which are adapted from Gosta Esping-Andersen's The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (1990).
The first essays, which focus on the determination and consequences of risks, examine how the objective and subjective perceptions of a range of welfare risks relate to institutional settings, how actual and perceived labor market factors explain perceived risks of
unemployment, and how the restructuring of global production and the labor market stimulates risk consciousness and demands for wider welfare among individuals employed in economically vulnerable sectors of global markets. Chapters five and six examine family and childcare issues, shifting the focus to the welfare state's service provision. The seventh essay links the willingness of individuals to support...