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By Steffen Mau

Why do humans aid, or no longer aid, a welfare nation? Drawing on a wealth of empirical facts and utilizing the case stories of england and Germany, Mau examines the coverage components of unemployment, poverty, pensions and healthiness and argues that individuals are neither egocentric nor altruistic; particularly they have a tendency to cause reciprocally.

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Through social transfers, social ties are institutionalized and social relationships between members and groups of the society are recognized, maintained and balanced. Therefore, as EspingAndersen (1990: 18) has pointed out, it is necessary to think of the welfare state ‘in terms of social relations, not just social categories’, or, as Lessenich (1998) puts it, ‘relations matter’. Indeed, welfare transfers between social groups, mutual aid and risk sharing depend, on the whole, on ongoing assertions of social relatedness.

The motivation to help, for example, is likely to be more effectively activated where help is solicited in direct confrontation with the concrete needs of other people, as well as contexts where others are visibly helping, as opposed to a situation where the relations between the helper and the needy is mediated by legal, bureaucratic, or professional procedures. (Offe 1992: 84) Obviously, the welfare state cannot rely on the ego gratification and social rewards which were a part of many charitable projects in Victorian times.

Citizens as ethical actors are those who contribute to the common good by understanding that they join with others, and that they are part of a system of reciprocal rights and duties. It requires understanding that everyone benefits from living in a society where mutual respect is honoured. For when society attempts to safeguard such viable conceptions of justice, public provision should accord equal treatment and concern. However, it should be noted that the principle of equal concern and respect does not say anything about the appropriate level of state ambition in regard to economic distribution and security.

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