Liberalism, Democratic Citizenship, and Welfare Reform: The Troubling Case of Workfare


This Article critiques the application of work requirements to the provision of welfare. It further provides a framework for understanding how work requirements can and cannot be imposed on citizens consistent with a developed-as opposed to a caricatured-theory of liberal democracy. The Article concludes that reform advocates, in their efforts to focus on social citizenship, eviscerate political and legal citizenship. Part II of this Article presents the basic arguments of work-welfare reformers regarding citizenship and participation in society. It includes a discussion of the reformers' critique of the liberal positions that they blame for the current problems of welfare. Part III argues that, contrary to the claims of reformers, liberalism does have a theory of democratic citizenship in which the problems of welfare can be addressed. Part IV applies the developed theory of liberal citizenship to the welfare proposals of the critics and argues that the theories of citizenship advanced by reformers deprive recipients of essential dignity and are incompatible with the foundations of liberal democracy. Part V proposes some options for a work policy that remain consistent with principles of democratic citizenship.


Public welfare, Liberalism, Citizenship



James W. Fox Jr. (Covington & Burling)



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