Monday, 25 March 2013

Solidarity and Reciprocity in the Social Investment State: What Can be Learned from the Case of Flemish School Allowances and Truancy?

an article by Bea Cantillon and Wim van Lancker (Herman Deleeck Centre for Social Policy, University of Antwerp, Belgium) published in Journal of Social Policy Volume 41 Issue 4 (October 2012)


In this article, we discuss some of the new tensions that are emerging between the different foundations of the welfare state.

Several developments have led to the advent of the social investment state, in which people are being activated and empowered instead of passively protected. We argue that this social policy shift has been accompanied by a normative shift towards a more stringent interpretation of social protection in which individual responsibility and quid pro quo have become the primordial focus.

Using the Belgian (Flemish) disciplinary policy on truancy and school allowances as a case in point, we demonstrate that this social policy paradigm may have detrimental consequences for society’s weakest: they will not always be able to meet the newly emerged standard of reciprocity.

This implies an erosion of the ideal of social protection and encourages new forms of social exclusion. As these changes in the social policy framework are not confined to the Belgian case alone, our analysis bears relevance for all European welfare states.

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