Compare and contrast Marxist and Anarchist theories in relation to the welfare state and one public sector/ voluntary role.
There is considerable overlap in the criticism from Marxism and from Anarchism on the welfare state. However, there are also considerable differences within these two ideologies; there are different kinds of Anarchists and different kinds of Marxists and they express different positions on issues, including the welfare state. Despite the intuitive classification of the welfare state as a positive phenomenon by the Left, more radical elements such as Marxism and Anarchism view the welfare state as a merely another aspect of the evil capitalist state.
Welfare State Theory and Concepts
Welfare theory is best understood within the framework of social policy, in terms of identifying ways of establishing policies aimed at achieving ‘welfare’. Fitzpatrick provides a useful definition of welfare theory as “a means of gaining both a transcendent and an immanent knowledge of the concepts and principles that underpin the design and delivery of social policies in order to understand the ways in which those policies affect the well- being of individuals and society as a whole” (Fitzpatrick, 2001,p.4).
There are six main perspectives of welfare: happiness, security, preferences, needs, desert and relative comparisons. Happiness can be classified as either “shallow”, referring to an identifiable and temporary mental and physical experience, or as “deeper”, referring to a general state of mind/ experience and satisfaction/ contentment. Security can be defined as the knowledge that one’s circumstances are not going to deteriorate in the foreseeable future. This notion becomes somewhat problematic if one considers issues of dependency e.g. does a marriage to a wealthy spouse imply security? Welfare can also be viewed in terms of preferences i.e. if the wants and needs of an individual have been achieved. This perspective is also problematic because people’s preferences may be misguided e.g. if an individual feels they need cigarettes and alcohol to feel good- have they really achieved ‘welfare’ when they acquire/ consume these? Also, there is the possibility that one’s preferences may trespass on another person’s welfare (Fitzpatrick, 2001).
Welfare can also be viewed from the perspective of needs, which is more highly regarded than preferences in social policy, mainly because of the egalitarian implications of need- fulfillment and also because need is a more objective form of measurement and definition. The problem however, lies in defining and identifying basic human needs. The perspective of desert “implies equivalence between contribution and reward” (Fitzpatrick, 2001, p.8). However, the problem here is to identify who is deserving. Finally, relative comparisons are significant, based on views like ‘poverty is a relative concept’ i.e. we know that we are poor because we do not possess the things which more affluent people possess. As noted by Fitzpatrick: “in reality, the level of wellbeing that I experience is dependent on the level of well-being experienced by those with whom I make comparisons” (Fitzpatrick, 2001, p.8).
Citizenship is another concept of central importance in welfare theory. Fitzpatrick identifies two preconditions to citizenship: a plural and democratic state and an open and free civil society (Fitzpatrick, 2001).There are various models of citizenship, often in conflict with each other. Jenkins and Sofos identify these as three models that are interwoven with the concept of the nation, which is however more ‘exclusive’ than citizenship. The three models are: the exclusionary/ethnic model of citizenship, the republican/civic model of the nation, and the multicultural model of citizenship and the nation (Jenkins and Sofos, 1996). The exclusionary/ethnic model defines the nation in terms of ethnicity and characteristics such as culture and language. In this model, minorities are excluded from citizenship or allowed only limited legal and social rights. Citizenship is acquired at birth, depending on the nationality of one’s parents; immigrants cannot become citizens and can never be accepted as part of the nation.
The republican/ civic model on the other hand, claims that citizenship, or membership of the nation does not depend on ethnicity, religion or language. This model presents members of the nation as free and equal citizens who claim citiz