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Postmodern Welfare

Postmodern Welfare
Reconstructing an Emancipatory Project

208 pages | SAGE Publications Ltd
The significance of postmodernism for understanding social welfare has never been systematically explained. In this major book, Peter Leonard rectifies matters. He provides readers with an accessible, relevant, and authoritative guide to postmodern welfare. The last two decades have witnessed a sustained assault on the Keynesian "welfare state." Throughout the West, governments have sought to replace the post-war welfare compact with neo-conservative individualism, which has championed reduced taxation, increased profitability, market competitiveness, and minimal residual public services. The alternatives for the Leftùfor feminists, socialists, those struggling against racism and for minority cultural rightsùlook bleak. Postmodernism appears to have compounded the problem by questioning the validity of a mass politics of emancipation based on universal values of justice, reason, and progress. Leonard develops a particular reading of the impact of postmodernism in a number of crucial areas of social theory and political practice. His aim is to consider how positive and creative thinking about welfare can be reconstructed. This possibility of reconstruction is developed through an analysis of issues crucial to contemporary debates on welfare: the notion of the individual subject; the context of culture; the nature of organization; the imperatives of the economy; and the possibilities of a politics of resistance. The book seeks to enable the reader to participate in a dialogue about the future of welfare under the specific postmodern condition of late capitalism. Well-judged, incisive, and brilliantly written, this book places the subject of postmodernism on the agenda of contemporary debates about the welfare state. It will be required reading for anyone interested in postmodern theory, the welfare state, and the social and political prospects for Western societies.

`Postmodern Welfare is a richly textured and multi-layered book which is going to make a significant contribution to the history of ideas' - International Social Work

`This is an original and challenging book about the prospects for welfare in the context of a postmodern global economy. In a searching analysis, Peter Leonard raises key questions about the ways in which the Left might respond to this context through a reflexive politics of resistance. In so doing, he charts a careful course towards reconstructing an emancipatory project for welfare, a course which rejects both the sceptical pessimism of much postmodernist thought and the utopian optimism which characterised much traditional Left politics. The book deserves to be read widely and to be actively debated by all those committed to the development of human welfare in progressive directions' - John Harris, University of Warwick

`Postmodern Welfare will be indispensable in re-situating the stalled politics of the welfare state' - Geoffrey Pearson, Goldsmith College, University of London

'Peter Leonard's book is a major achievement, providing a long overdue assessment of the debate on modernity and welfare. The study combines social theory with a keen sense of history, producing a unique and innovative text relevant to a wide range of disciplines' - Chris Phillipson, Social Policy Association affil to check in pick

`Leonard's book is useful for its discussion on the implications of postmodernism for human well-being....his attempt to harness the potential of popular social movements to engage in effective activism is an interesting one. It is one of the few coherent explications not only of how postmodernism can provide a normative basis for social welfare but how activism can be kept alive in a world which is increasing indifferent to human suffering, social causes and collective action. It remains to be seen whether his ideas and prognostications will be translated into a viable emancipatory project' - Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

Peter Leonard

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