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  • Print publication year: 2019
  • Online publication date: April 2019

11 - The Future of Social Rights

from Part IV - Economic and Social Rights in Retrenchment


This chapter begins by contending that social rights scholarship has been too slow in taking the broader study of welfare states and social policy seriously.  In reflection on some of it, we can see emerging a frightening set of challenges for the future of social rights. They include recent trends such as collapsing support for old-left parties and unions, new vectors such as climate and demographic change and the inevitable consequences such as stealth retrenchment and intra-welfare state competition. If the law is to meet such challenges, the author argues, we must also recognize that the liberal heritage of much public law has bequeathed certain pitfalls. Ultimately, he argues that constitutional social rights should be seen as the capstone rather than foundation of a just welfare state, and that public law in particular should play a supporting rather than leading role in the show.

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