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The New Puritanism: The Resurgence of Contractarian Citizenship in Common Law Welfare States



In common law jurisdictions, legislative reforms to their welfare states are frequently framed in terms of their innovative nature. However, such legislative reforms, on the contrary, may be representative of a more historical ‘puritan’ view of welfare and citizenship, the doctrines of which originate in the aftermath of the sixteenth-century Protestant Reformation, and which developed in the following centuries. The core values of this era have always remained within welfare legislation and policy in common law states, and appear to have experienced a resurgence in recent times. These puritan values manifest themselves within welfare legislation under certain distinct themes, which will be expanded upon. The extent to which values of puritan Christianity renders welfare legislation in common law welfare states distinct from that of other welfare states is also a theme which is examined. In addition, the utility of this ‘puritan’ approach towards welfare law and policy is also discussed.