Favorite Add to Favorites

Contradictions of the Welfare State

By Claus Offe

Edited by John Keane





Claus Offe is one of the leading social scientists working in Germany today, and his work, particularly on the welfare state, has been enormously influential both in Europe and the United States. Contradictions of the Welfare State is the first collection of Offe's essays to appear in a single volume in English, and it contains a selection of his most important recent work on the breakdown of the post-war settlement. The political writings in this book are primarily concerned with the origins of the present difficulties - what Offe calls the 'crises of crisis management' - of welfare capitalist states. He indicates why in the present period, these states are no longer capable of fully managing the socio-political problems and conflicts generated by late capitalist societies and discusses the viability of New Right, corporatist, and democratic socialist proposals for restructuring the welfare state.The book also offers fresh and penetrating insights into a range of other subjects, including social movements, political parties, law, social policy, and labor markets. There is an interview with Claus Offe, prepared especially for this volume, and a substantial introductory chapter by John Keane which links the essays and explores Offe's central themes.

This book is included in the series, Studies in Contemporary German Social Thought, edited by Thomas McCarthy.


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262150279 310 pp. | 7.9 in x 5.2 in


Out of Print ISBN: 9780262650144 310 pp. | 7.9 in x 5.2 in


John Keane

John Keane is an editor of Telos and Senior Lecturer in Political Theory and Sociology at the Polytechnic of Central London.


  • From whatever ideological or disciplinary perspective one approaches the subject of the welfare state on will find Offe's analysis of its contradictions as provocative and informative. These essays represent a stubborn determination to rethink conventional ideas on the state's role in welfare in mature industrial societies. They are both brilliantly and lucidly executed.

    Martin Rein

    Professor of Social Policy, Urban Studies & Planning, MIT

  • Offe not only postulates his own theory of welfare state crisis, but broadens our understanding of other theories through his lucid critiques and insightful comparisons. His work is indispensable for anyone who wants to understand recent scholarship on theories of the state and on the role of social policy in maintaining the political and economic structure of capitalism. But best of all, Offe defines terms clearly, poses crisp questions, and seems to enjoy a lively dialogue with his audience—such care for the reader is a rarity in this genre of political science.

    Deborah A. Stone

    Associate Professor of Political Science, MIT

  • Claus Offe's analysis of the advanced capitalist state is continually interesting. Steeped in contemporary social science and shunning Marxist clichés, such as 'sharpening contradictions' or 'formal democracy,' he develops in these essays an original view of the welfare state crisis and explores with great subtlety possible coalitions and pathways of a socialist politics.

    Albert O. Hirschman