Schmidt, Vivien A. (1999) “Politics, Values, and the Power of Discourse in the Reform of the Welfare State”. In: UNSPECIFIED, Pittsburgh, PA. (Unpublished)
This paper explores the democratic legitimation of reform of the welfare state by considering how governments actively sought to justify policy change through public discourse, whether by appeals to an existing national value consensus or by selectively emphasizing other values. By focussing on moments of crisis or transition when values are generally made explicit through normative discourse in public debates as opposed to continuing as unquestioned background assumptions embedded in institutional practice, this chapter seeks to offer comparative insights not only into the values that remain central to different polities’ notions of social justice but also into the discourses that appeal to values in their efforts to legitimate policy change. It also considers how the national institutional context and political climate affects the locus of discourse as its effectiveness. Finally, it raises questions about whether there is a new emerging value consensus about the appropriate kinds of policies for a new, less vulnerable, more competitive welfare state in the open economy.
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