Summary: Major episodes in the development of state supplied goods for the public can be interpreted as contests among the elites in order to overcome the indirect effects of the impact of things such as disease and ignorance on the poor. De Swann argues that this was essentially a collective action problem, and that it was overcome by the illusion of what good would come from the efforts (that they would be able to control the influx of relief-seekers and make them earn their own upkeep). The rest of De Swann’s argument focuses on the endogenous nature of the growth of the welfare state – essentially, the welfare state created the conditions for its own expansion an entrenchment. Idea of the expansion of the welfare state as a ‘hyperbolic wave’ that has reached equilibrium. Pressures came from the newly professionalized middle class (who worked in the institutions that were created) to expand the administration and its autonomy. Furthermore, the newly created administration shaped the way in which individuals interacted with each other – “expert regimes are formative for the mentality of citizens in the welfare state” (for example, categorization, proto-professionalization).
Important Insight: The endogenous nature of the growth of the welfare state – once it was put into place, there was a mechanism of expansion that occurred that focused on the newly created expert state. Professionals become the mediators between state and society.
Critique: It wasn’t clear to me exactly why the administration ceased to grow – what constrains it, exactly? – but I may have just missed it.