Concepts of Social Justice in the Welfare State. Great Britain and Germany since 1945
Title: Concepts of Social Justice in the Welfare State. Great Britain and Germany since 1945
Author: TORP, Cornelius
Series/Number: EUI RSCAS; 2010/64
Concepts of social justice are at the very heart of the welfare state. From the perspective of the history of institutions, the article reconstructs the principles of justice which underlie the architecture of the social security systems in Great Britain and Germany and analyses how they have changed since 1945. It turns out that in general both welfare states are based on mixtures of different concepts of justice. Parallels can be found above all in the health care systems, which in both countries are based on a combination of two principles – equality of access on the one side and treatment according to one’s needs on the other side. There are more significant differences, in contrast, in regard to insuring against unemployment and to pension systems, whereby the British welfare state entails a link between the norms of equality and of neediness, whereas in Germany the principle of the equivalence between contributions and benefits is deeply rooted. All path-dependencies notwithstanding, a convergence in the institutional arrangements of both welfare states can be traced over the last decades. In Britain as well as in Germany means-tested benefits and thus the principle of neediness became increasingly important, most notably in the field of unemployment benefits. At the same time, both welfare states experienced the rise of new concepts of justice starting from non-class groups like families, women or generations.
Subject: social justice; welfare state; institutions; Great Britain; Germany
Type of Access: openAccess