During the 1980s Western industrial societies have had to weather deep recession. Their governments have since come to two realizations: first, that the amount available to the welfare state as a percentage of GNP has had to be reduced (with all the attendant limitation of services and expectations which this entails); and second, that whatever the reduction in provision, it cannot simply be dictated from on high. It has to be managed with great tact, and in such a way that those affected by it come to be complicit in the very decisions which may ill serve them. These two realizations accord with what critical theorists refer to as a crisis of accumulation and a crisis of legitimation (O’Connor, 1973). When industry is in recession, less able to turn a profit, to accumulate wealth, it spawns many social problems, among them unemployment and the despair which attends it. Moreover, a market which contains many unemployed people is a market whose power to consume goods and services is weakened. The crisis of accumulation feeds on itself. Recession ensues. Those adversely affected expect the state to provide for them in their time of need, and if this expectation is not met, then they will come increasingly to question the legitimacy of the system. Meanwhile, those employed within the welfare state-teachers, health care professionals-face a contraction of their resources at the very time when they need them most. The state comes to be faced with a crisis of motivation within its welfare agencies. It appears now to have realized that overtly bureaucratic or administrative solutions are unlikely to succeed, and may indeed exacerbate the very problems which they purport to solve.1 In addition to this need to strike a balance between accumulation and legitimation, modern capitalist society is marked by what Bell calls cultural contradictions. He argues that the three realms of capitalist society-the economy, the polity and the culture-are ruled by contrary principles. That is, for the economy it is efficiency; for the polity it is equality; and for the culture it is self-gratification (Bell, 1979, pp. xxx-xxxi). In particular, the tension is between, on the one hand, efficiency, bureaucracy and the Protestant values of frugality, deferred gratification and asceticism and, on the other hand, a hedonism and narcissism which is continuously fueled by the advertising media. Deferred gratification is contrary to immediate gratification; bureaucracies marked by roles and specialism do not sit easily
with a culture which seeks the self-fulfilment of the individual and which emphasizes the centrality of the ‘whole’ person (Bell, 1979, p. 14).