chapter  5
20 Pages

The history of a phantom welfare state

The United States
WithRose Ernst

The phantom welfare state emerges through origin and purpose stories, retold by policymakers, administrators, scholars and the public. This chapter introduces the phantom welfare state to provoke political and scholarly dialogue, not cast aspersions on welfare state scholarship. It examines the role of federalism – particularly degrees of uniformity – in illuminating the existence of a phantom welfare state, especially in light of the competing narratives described earlier. The chapter considers the colonial and racial purpose of a phantom welfare state for maintaining a racial contract or white democracy. The traditional accounts of its ‘origins’ tend to imply that both the term, and a certain idea of the welfare state, gained a general currency from the 1940s.” Parallel to viewing public assistance and social control as two sides of the same coin, scholars have spun welfare state origin narratives of both economic upheaval and economic development.