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Analysing social policy concepts and languageComparative and Transnational Perspectives$
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Daniel Béland and Klaus Petersen

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9781447306443

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2014

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447306443.001.0001

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The Dutch ‘caring state’

The Dutch ‘caring state’

(p.229) TWELVE The Dutch ‘caring state’
Analysing social policy concepts and language

Kees van Kersbergen

Jaap Woldendorp

Policy Press

This contribution analyzes the history of the language of the Dutch welfare state. We progress with the 1960s and 1970s, when the passive, benefit-oriented “verzorgingsstaat” was completed and perfected and the term not only became dominant, but the system’s generosity became a source of political pride for both Social Democrats and Christian Democrats. In the 1980s and mid-1990s, however, the complex system developed severe problems, which among other things, was because of an explosion of the number of beneficiaries, especially in the Disability Scheme, the social law that is most typical for the very generous, yet extremely passive, social policy arrangements. The influx of claimants was exhausting the program’s financial capacity, which led to the introduction of a new discourse of austerity and retrenchment, but more importantly, led to a fundamental criticism, rethinking and then remodeling the passive “verzorgingsstaat.” This development reached its pinnacle in the mid-1990s with the gradual introduction of a more active and service oriented social policy paradigm, exemplified by the ideologically important, and later exported, neologism “flexicurity”.

Keywords:   Dutch, Verzorgingsstaat, welfare state, social policy, Christian Democrats, Social Democrats, Flexicurity

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