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The future of economic and social rights is unlikely to resemble its past. Neglected within the human rights movement, avoided by courts, and subsumed within a single-minded conception of development as economic growth, economic and social rights enjoyed an uncertain status in international human rights law and in the public laws of most countries. However, today, under conditions of immense poverty, insecurity, and political instability, the rights to education, health care, housing, social security, food, water, and sanitation are central components of the human rights agenda. The Future of Economic and Social Rights captures the significant transformations occurring in the theory and practice of economic and social rights, in constitutional and human rights law. Professor Katharine G. Young brings together a group of distinguished scholars from diverse disciplines to examine and advance the broad research field of economic and social rights that incorporates legal, political science, economic, philosophy and anthropology scholars.
Social progress in the future will depend more on bottom-up initiatives and grassroots transformations than on top-down state interventions. Everyone can start the movement toward a better society by taking initiatives in the family, in the community, at work, and in the capacity of a parent, spouse, worker, employer, investor, consumer, voter, volunteer.
The welfare state is a key pillar of social cohesion but is under stress in the globalized economy. It must be reformed in order to focus its attention on making the economic sphere more sustainable and less conducive to inequalities in the first place, thereby reducing the need for redistribution. By granting better economic and social rights to citizens, the state can play a more emancipatory role.