The aim of the workshop is to develop and discuss anthropological perspectives on welfare and well-being in the context of a globalised and changing world.
This workshop asks what contributions anthropologists can make to the study of welfare and well-being. Current debates are often premised on an economistic understanding of welfare and well-being, presenting them as ideals that are desirable but too costly to be realised. Such arguments often take as their starting point changing demographics and increased mobility across borders. For example, many European states are faced with ageing populations and falling birth rates and are preparing for a future where a declining number of contributors will be confronted with an increased demand for welfare provisions and the associated costs. Issues such as immigration and the right to asylum have provided justifications for the scaling back of existing welfare services. In addition, traditional post-war welfare states have been accused of stifling individual initiative, for instance leading, in the UK, to the role of the state changing from provider to enabler. What is often missing in these debates are arguments concerning welfare and well-being as social and cultural phenomena rather than as financial entities. Anthropology has a long tradition in the study of kinship and communities, obligation and reciprocity, health and healing, and institutions, organisations and policy, making it ideally placed to develop an understanding of welfare as the social distribution of well-being that includes everyday life, local interactions and institutional practices. The workshop invites papers based on empirical research and will provide a stimulating environment in which to develop and discuss anthropological perspectives on welfare and well-being in the context of a globalised and changing world.