The Social Stratification of Social Risks: Class and Responsibility in the 'New' Welfare State
Welfare states are said to have evolved over the course of the past twenty years towards a ‘social investment’ model of welfare, characterised by a focus on equality of opportunity and upward social mobility combined with greater emphasis on individual responsibility. More or less concurrently, under the mantra of ‘individualisation’, scepticism has grown with regard to the relevance of traditional stratification schemes. This paper sets out to ascertain whether social class, i.e. intergenerational background, (still) affects the occurrence of ‘social risks’. Using SILC 2005 data, it considers the impact of social class (of origin) on a relevant selection of social risks: unemployment, ill-health, living in a jobless household, single parenthood, temporary employment, and low-paid employment. The results provide clear evidence of a continuing influence of social class. On this basis, we argue that a one-sided focus on individual responsibility could open the door to new forms of marginalisation.
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