Since the global financial crisis in 2008, an ‘austerity consensus’ has emerged across many advanced capitalist economies (Farnsworth and Irving, 2012). Despite differing institutional settings, there has been a notable degree of convergence on fiscal consolidation (Farnsworth and Irving, 2012; Taylor-Gooby, 2012). Alongside this, political administrations have repeatedly claimed that welfare profligacy and dependency are key causes of public sector debt and economic stagnation. On this basis, political leaders have cultivated a policy mandate to re-configure working-age welfare and constrain public social expenditure in this domain. Taken together, these reforms represent a ‘new, more constrained and qualitatively different deal for citizens’ (Dwyer and Wright, 2014: 33). The central objective of this themed section is to explore the impact of these developments and their significance for the shifting character and operation of social citizenship in countries pursuing a similar strategy of ‘welfare austerity’ (MacLeavy, 2011: 360).