Securing citizens’ social rights under neoliberal welfare governance: the case of Israeli social services

Sigal Bracha-Sadowitz, Guy Feldman, Lia Levin*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Summary : While scholars have examined how neoliberal ideas and policies manifest at the front lines of the welfare state, far less is known about how the neoliberal approach prevalent in such states shapes decisions that senior state actors make about social welfare policy. The current study advances the literature by examining the processes and motivations behind the decision to withdraw from enacting a law designed to secure the social rights of all Israeli citizens. The study is rooted in a critical research paradigm, combining both inductive and deductive analyses of in-depth interviews with 15 senior officials and legislators in the field of social services. Findings : Despite their purported support for equality in the provision of social services, their acknowledgment of the shortcomings of current legislation in this respect, and their active role in promoting an alternative thereto, participants were persuaded to act in such a way as to support free-market measures. These findings illustrate an arena of policymaking wherein some state actors “purchase” other actors’ cooperation and compliance with the neoliberal approach. Applications : The “behind-the-scenes” account of the legislative process, set against the backdrop of neoliberal welfare governance, provides insights useful to all those who seek to promote parity-enhancing legislation aimed at supporting marginalized social service recipients, in Israel and beyond.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

Keywords

  • Social work
  • neoliberalism
  • social policy
  • social service
  • social workers
  • welfare rights

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