Greening the welfare state: Confronting the ecological state with the realities of welfare state transformations
Summary, in English
In this paper we explore the potential of cross-fertilization between research on welfare state reforms and on efforts to green the state in response to ecological challenges. In order to gain a deeper understanding of the conditions for an ecological state to emerge we relate welfare state studies to green political theory, that provide different conceptions of the ecological state and ways to green the state, and to comparativist environmental politics that trace patterns of policy change and institutionalization for greening the state in practice. Recently some scholars have made analogies between the evolution of the ecological state and the genesis of once the welfare state. However, while providing insights on such similarities and on the kind of challenges environmental change poses for the welfare state, our concern is rather what challenges contemporary welfare state transformations pose for the efforts to green the state. How are we to understand calls for the revitalization of the state in light of key contradictions in welfare state developments such as the fiscal crisis of welfare states, liberalization of welfare policies and increasing inequalities? In this sense, the marketization of environmental policy and individualization of ecological responsibilities could be understood in analogy with the retrenchment and recommodification of welfare policy. Such welfare state developments has critical implications for the efforts to strengthen state competences and capacities for governing societies towards ecologically sustainable and socially just ends, e.g. in terms of legitimizing and organizing both ecological and social aspirations.