The Repoliticization of the Welfare State

Ian P. McManus
How the Great Recession changed welfare


The Repoliticization of the Welfare State grapples with the evolving nature of political conflict over social spending after the Great Recession. While the severity of the economic crisis encouraged strong social spending responses to protect millions of individuals, governments have faced growing pressure to reduce budgets and make deep cuts to the welfare state. Whereas conservative parties have embraced fiscal discipline and welfare state cuts, left-wing parties have turned away from austerity in favor of higher social spending. These political differences represent a return of traditional left-right beliefs over social spending and economic governance. 

This book is one of the first to systematically compare welfare state politics before and after the Great Recession, arguing that a new and lasting post-crisis dynamic has emerged where political parties once again matter for social spending. At the heart of this repoliticization are intense ideological debates over market regulation, social inequality, redistribution, and the role of the state. The book analyzes social spending dynamics for 28 countries before and after the crisis. It also includes in-depth country case studies representing five distinct welfare state types: Germany, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Spain, and the Czech Republic.

Ian P. McManus is Assistant Professor of Political Science, Emerson College.

Praise / Awards

  • “McManus’s book marks a turning point in the political economy of the welfare state. After decades of retrenchment, the global financial crisis of 2008 caused a thorough-going ‘repoliticization’ of the welfare state. Left parties suddenly parted ways with the right on austerity and those that did not were badly punished by voters, in some cases even disappearing. Populist parties advocated more spending. In all the different welfare state worlds, politics is back. This fabulous book shows why and how.”
    —Mitchell Orenstein, University of Pennsylvania
  • “This book provides a comparative overview of the responses to the global financial crisis and the political dynamics at work in different European welfare states. It makes a strong case for the argument that politics matter (again).”
    —Elke Heins, University of Edinburgh

  • “This book makes a simple but powerful argument: Partisan conflict about the welfare state is back. To support his case, Ian P. McManus not only brings in a wealth of qualitative and quantitative evidence, but also links the European Union and national level politics in a convincing narrative of post-financial crisis politics.”
    —Peter Starke, University of Southern Denmark

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 234pp.
  • 8 charts, 1 table.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Hardcover
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-07532-4

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  • $80.00 U.S.

  • Paper
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-05532-6

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  • $29.95 U.S.

  • Open Access
  • 2022
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-90286-6

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