Published online by Cambridge University Press: 09 March 2020
Many welfare states have embraced choice and market mechanisms since the 1990s. With respect to welfare users, it has been argued that this led to a change from citizens to consumers. This paper challenges this observation and discusses changes of welfare user roles in the German welfare state. The main argument rests on the assumption that user roles are much more complex and include claimants and co-producers in addition to citizens and consumers. Based on this heuristic model of multiple user roles, empirical evidence for user roles in pension insurance, health care and schools is presented. Indeed, we observe a shift towards consumers in many fields of welfare provision, but German users are still largely addressed as claimants and citizens. Moreover, they are acting as active co-producers, entitled claimants, subversive consumers and needy patients.