Chapter One provided a comprehensive taxonomy of the ways in which the term ‘modernisation’ in the Blair years was deployed by the government and understood by those who sought to analyse it in action. This chapter focuses on just one of those conceptual categories, the sense in which modernisation has been used to mean a preference for, and a replacement by, private sector means and methods for those utilised in and by the public sector. In doing so, private welfare is understood in three main ways: (i) as the ownership of assets and whether they lie in public or private hands; (ii) as the provision of welfare services – whether the state directly supplies such services, or whether it ‘outsources’ or subcontracts that responsibility to a private sector provider; and (iii) as the allocation of responsibilities between the state and the individual – to find a job, for example, or to deal with the collapse of a private pension plan. Running through all of these is the question of zeitgeist – whether the underlying set of fundamental attitudes and beliefs that the Blair governments brought to this question of welfare amounts to the sort of disjunctive step-change that Hall (1993) identifies.
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