A Review of Theories of Social Welfare in the Postmodern Era

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  • ポストモダニズムと社会福祉
  • ポストモダニズムと社会福祉 : 「近代的なるもの=社会福祉」批判への応答
  • ポストモダニズム ト シャカイ フクシ : 「 キンダイテキ ナル モノ=シャカイ フクシ 」 ヒハン エ ノ オウトウ
  • ──「近代的なるもの=社会福祉」批判への応答──

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Abstract

The measures and policies related to lifestyle that constitute the modern welfare state, generally called “social policy,” “social security” and “social welfare” (collectively referred to in this paper as “social welfare”), and knowledge concerning these measures and policies have been frequently criticized, in a similar way to school education, medical care and the judicial process, as “instruments of modern repressive governance” by Postmodernist theories. Postmodernist theories are the Modernist criticism that emerged in the latter half of the twentieth century from Jean-François Lyotard, Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Gilles Deleuze, and others. These thinkers challenged and criticized the concepts and beliefs that are presupposed by modern knowledge. Furthermore, their Modernist criticism is related not only to the ideal form of knowledge, but also to real-world issues. These issues include the fact that the modern process, which has emphasized the idea of actualizing an affluent and fair society, in reality conceals an unfair distribution of continuously reproduced resources and power, forces predominant values such as Western and male-centric values onto people under the banner of “universality,” and that control of peopleʼs lifestyles and lives is increasingly intensified for the purpose of promoting the modern process. Leaving aside the question of whether social welfare has been realized during the previous few centuries, the object of pursuit was precisely the “actualization of an affluent and fair society.” Therefore, Postmodernist trends of thought can be said to be criticism that relates to the foundation of social welfare. This paper presents a categorization of how the various theories related to social welfare have responded to the Postmodernist criticism. One aim of this work is to examine the possibilities of social theory since Postmodernism. At the sametime, this paper also attempts to reflect on the workings of social welfare within society, which has an increasingly growing presence in recent years in Japan. With these purposes in mind, the paper first provides an overview of the Postmodernist criticism of social welfare. Next, the responses of social welfare to such criticism are categorized according to core trends in social welfare studies and the trends in normative theory, which philosophically supports the workings of social welfare. Through this work, it was demonstrated that the responses to Postmodernist criticism of social welfare are a reconsideration of the modern concept of the “subject” in social work theory, development of new support techniques, a movement to emphasize political action by social workers and introspective and reflective debates about the knowledge of social welfare with the key concept of “participation.” The conclusion of this paper is that among these various responses to Postmodernist criticism, the most constructive response has the key concept of “participation,” which keeps the workings of social welfare and related knowledge permanently open-ended via the realization of democratic dialogue. After confirming this point, the paper indicates a suitable position in which to situate thoughts regarding humans and society in late modern times suggested by the response which has “participation” as its key concept as a possibility of social theory since Postmodernism.

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