In the previous chapter, it has been shown that as private becomes recognised as public consumption, so the consumption aspect of provision is tempered and even displaced by other considerations. The prime example is the welfare state with which this chapter is concerned. More exactly, the focus is upon how the theory of the welfare state has shifted. The next section observes the recent emergence of the new welfare economics, in which welfare is perceived in terms of the behaviour of optimising but imperfectly informed individuals. It ultimately leads to the idea of the welfare state as collective risk management on behalf of its citizens. This is the political economy of the welfare state as economics imperialism, as discussed in Chapter 2. As such, it is a far cry from the political economy of the welfare state that understood the latter in terms of the contradictions and conflicts of capitalism as a system of economic and social reproduction, as laid out in the third section. Over the past decade, as critically detailed in the fourth section, this has given way to the welfare regimes approach. It argues that different welfare states are attached to different ideal types. This approach has, however, been subject to contradictory pressures. On the one hand, as also discussed in more general terms in Chapter 2, globalisation is perceived to be homogenising welfare systems, forcing them to comply with one another in the competition between nations for economic success. On the other hand, the empirical evidence suggests increasingly diverse outcomes in welfare policy by programmes and by country. The result has been an uncomfortable accommodation both with the evidence and with the new welfare economics. In contrast, in the fifth section, an alternative approach is suggested. Like that for private consumption, it argues for a sop approach in which welfare provision is explicitly tied to the economic and social reproduction of capitalism.