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Abstract disponibile solo in lingua inglese
The paper opens with an analysis of the different forms of privatisation, all of which imply some diminution of the state's role in the provision, financing or regulation of welfare. Privatisation does not simply mean the sale of public assets and greater reliance on private enterprise and competitive markets; it also means the transfer of welfare responsibilities from the state to the voluntary and informal sectors. This is partly an ideological issue, concerning the state's relationship with individual citizens and social groups, and partly a matter of practicalities.
The relationship between privatisation and welfare pluralism is explored. Welfare pluralism implies a less dominant role for the state in the provision (as opposed to the financing and regulation) of welfare services: its major themes are decentralisation and participation.
Some doubt is cast on the capacity and the desirability of the informal and voluntary sectors substituting for the state in social service provision. The family is undergoing substantial changes which may reduce its capacity to provide care and, at the same time, the number of dependents is increasing. The voluntary sector is beset with problems of uneven and incomplete coverage, equity, fragmentation and accountability.
Despite the intentions of many of its proponents, the chief consequence of welfare pluralism has been the rapid development of the commercial sector.