Headline: The dilemma of “sustainable welfare” and the problem of the future in capacitating social policy

This article discusses a dilemma of welfare states in the ecological transition. While the principle of “sustainability” is increasingly accepted, there are very different concrete declinations of it. I identify two broad interpretations of sustainability and corresponding paths of social change. The dominant approach, promoted by governments, businesses, and international organizations focuses on inclusive green growth. It aims to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation and seeks to make the transition to a green economy as socially inclusive as possible. In this context, “enabling” social policies mainly focus on employment promotion. The second approach, mostly embraced by heterodox academics and social movements, involves a deeper social-ecological transformation which attempts to lower the priority of economic growth and employment. Accordingly, the role of capacitating welfare states is to enable all individuals to flourish in a post-productivist society. I argue that while the second approach is normatively superior to the first one, it is also more difficult to realize, generating a dilemma for future-oriented politics.

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Academic Articles

Laruffa, F. (2022). The dilemma of “sustainable welfare” and the problem of the future in capacitating social policy. Sustainability: science, practice, & policy, 18(1), 822-836. doi:10.1080/15487733.2022.2143206.