The modernisation of welfare states is high on the agenda of many European nations. The so-called "anglo-saxon" model plays an important, but contradictory, symbolic role, as both a template for reform and as a symbol of the problems of neo-liberal governance. Rather than viewing the UK as an exemplar of neo liberalism, this paper highlights the unstable mix of governance styles at stake in welfare reform. It highlights current trends in the attempt to remake relationships between government and people around new conceptions of citizenship and community and the fostering of new aspirations and opportunities. It then explores the implications for issues of governance around the themes of welfare, work and citizenship. Finally the paper identifies some problems inherent in new discourses of the social - including social inclusion and social investment - that are at the core of welfare state modernisation strategies in the UK and beyond
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