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  MPIfG Scholar in Residence Lectures



MPIfG Scholar in Residence Lectures 2014

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The Making and Breaking of Welfare States

Francesco Boldizzoni

In his MPIfG lectures, Francesco Boldizzoni addresses a central issue of our time from a historical perspective. The evolution of welfare systems in the Western world has been the product of cultural variables and material forces. The former include deep-seated attitudes toward poverty and concepts of the state that can be traced back to the early modern period. The latter are intrinsic to capitalist development inasmuch as it rests on Marx’s and Weber’s mechanical foundations. The interaction between the cultural and the material is itself problematic. It is largely responsible for the sense of instability that dominates our societies and, at the same time, warns the social scientist against the temptations of crystal-ball prediction. While history provides no guidance to the future, it can help make sense of this dynamic complexity.


Wednesday, January 29, 2014 | 5 p.m.

The Early Modern Origins of Modern Welfare Systems

The Reformation and the process of state-building that emerged from the disgregation of feudal power structures has cast a long shadow over the life of modern secularized societies. Decisions as to who should deliver welfare services and who should benefit from them in today’s market economies are embedded (often unconsciously) in centuries-old mental frameworks. The genesis of these great cultural divides forms the subject of the first lecture.
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Wednesday, February 5, 2014 | 5 p.m.

Reframing Justice in the Age of Revolution

The idea of rights and duties associated with citizenship is certainly a product of the Enlightenment but consensus among Enlightenment philosophers did not extend beyond the recognition of formal entitlements. The aspiration to substantive equality is something specific to continental political thought. On the other hand, it was the first industrial revolution, rather than any intellectual break from tradition, that introduced an element of discontinuity in British social policy.
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Wednesday, February 12, 2014 | 5 p.m.

Can Welfare Survive? Capitalism, Socialism, and the Post-Industrial Order

The third lecture engages with debates on the sustainability of welfare states. During the later stages of industrialization the welfare state came to be seen as a means to correct the imbalances of capitalism. The current predicament of this model concerns some well-known contradictions of capitalist development that have been brought to surface by the slowdown of growth. History shows that repression of social needs and values usually results in reactions. Only very seldom, however, have they taken the form of revolutions.
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