Crafting Local Welfare Landscapes
This book looks at a remarkable trend in contemporary social policy: the localization of welfare. In many of the modern welfare states, governments have started to shift responsibilities for welfare policy and governance to the local level, giving way to a transformation 'from welfare states to welfare cities.' Today, welfare policies have 'preparing' objectives rather than 'repairing' objectives. Strong institutional presence in the daily living environment of citizens seems a prerequisite for activating welfare policy. The main objective of this study is to understand how welfare cities operate. What has been observed are national efforts to create an open institutional space for local actors to develop 'localized' trajectories for social policy and governance. Drawing on two crucial Dutch cases, this appeared not a political process in the first place. Politics is not fully absent, but center stage stands a multitude of professional groups (e.g. service providers, managers), and institutional stakeholders (e.g. client groups, interest organizations). Policy goals, policy content, and modes of governance are gradually emerging in what is labeled 'crafting practices.' The book particularly elaborates on crafting challenges: which are the problems that actors have to solve when crafting responses to national policy pressures, searching for viable pathways into local welfare? The study concludes that truly local landscapes are not flowering yet. It can be argued, though, that welfare localization has bred a remarkable and important phenomenon, the rise of the local crafting community.
Publication Date: 2/15/2013