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Reimagining welfare futures as things fall apart [Anthropologies of the State (AnthroState)] 
Tessa Bonduelle (University of Amsterdam)
Anouk de Koning (University of Amsterdam)
Heath Cabot
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Tessa Bonduelle (University of Amsterdam)
Heath Cabot
Anouk de Koning (University of Amsterdam)
Friday 26 July, -, -
Time zone: Europe/Madrid
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Short Abstract:

This panel examines how actors in and alongside the state reimagine welfare and remake its futures as things fall apart. Studying the provision of essential social services as things fall apart casts a light on imagination and creation in state-sanctioned spaces and may prefigure future realities.

Long Abstract:

Across Europe and beyond, welfare states are falling apart. In the face of volatile economies, growing precarity, and increasingly conflictual diversity, welfare states show themselves to be unable to live up to earlier social contracts, to a sedimented set of expectations and assumptions vis-à-vis the state. This panel brings together ethnographic case studies that examine how actors in and alongside the state are reimagining welfare and remaking its futures. Anthropologists have long looked to social movements and grassroots initiatives for radical alternatives to existing governing arrangements. The work of imagination and refashioning done in less radical, state-sanctioned spaces has received much less attention, even though these are likely to prefigure future realities.

We ask: how do actors (local councils, municipalities, schools, charities, NGOs, churches, community groups, social enterprises, etc.) (re)imagine the welfare state, the social contract, and socio-political worlds more generally, as they provide essential social services related, for instance, to food, housing, health or education? Where established welfare arrangements are not providing answers to human emergencies, what actors emerge to take up what kind of public roles, and for whom? And how do projects and policies that claim to do welfare “differently,” recast governing traditions, welfare structures and social imaginaries in their day-to-day implementation? What new settlements do such efforts envision and elaborate? What welfare futures do they prefigure, in practice?

Accepted papers:

Session 1 Friday 26 July, 2024, -
Session 2 Friday 26 July, 2024, -