This article is about young peoples understanding of the welfare state, how they characterize it and what they think it is for. To do this, the method applied was the interview. It was selected 33 young people aged 18 to 25. In this sample were included school leavers, students in higher education and young people working in a variety of part-time and full-time occupations.
The young respondents showed to be not well clarified about the welfare state and seem to have an unawareness relating to the topic.
I will try to identify the main points in this ‘socio-political’ article and a brief critical analysis should constitute the aim of this review.
Young people are less aware of the political and economical situation of the countries – this is a fact! Therefore, their interest and concern on Government’s spending does not really represents to them a concern! As it says in the article, ‘none of the young people involved in the research viewed themselves as having a ‘direct’ involvement with the welfare state’.
The interviewees basically ‘portray’ the welfare state as it was something separated of their reality… as if the welfare state was created to help other people, people in need.
In other words, for this group of respondents, the welfare state exists to help people of all sorts (youth, elderly, unemployed and so forth), but they do not include themselves in their explanation. They are merely spectators.
In this article the intention was to analyze the interviewees in their answers and with that have a wider idea of the future committed population of this country.
Some of McIntosh’s respondents tend to see welfare state either as ‘safety net’ and an ‘actual’ set of bureaucratic procedures or a way to abuse the system.
Basically, part of the interviewees believe that the government have a caring role facing society, they accept as true that all of us have an obligation towards ‘other people’ and if we live in a society we have to make sure that everybody is engaged with the social worries. Here are two quotes defending this point of view:
‘We should all look out for each other, if you know them or not’ (woman 19).
‘If you are in society you do have some kind of responsibility to the rest of society so I definitely think a welfare state can help this to some extent’. (Woman 20)
On the other hand, the other part of the sample believes that the welfare state is a way of some people misuses the benefits from a ‘good faith’ government. The following quote is an accurate example of this:
‘With all good things you are going to get people who are going to basically try to screw it for as much as they can, people who aren’t genuine. (Man 19).
Apart of these two kinds of opinion, we still have another part of the sample saying that the welfare state works as a sort of ‘safety net’ for those whose for some reason have ‘slipped out’ of the ‘system’.
It is clear the lack of awareness and familiarity with the subject matter. They are talking about something that they barely know and do not seem to be very interested.
This article is a good piece of sociological research and is focused in a very excellent point. The perceptions of the welfare state tend to vary, however we can find some similarities when we came across terms like ‘safety net’ and ‘system’ – those were the terms that youth had to describe and explain better the so-called Welfare State.
It is with a little bit of sadness that we see some indifference from young people on those sociological/political issues, even knowing that those young men and women will be the future of the country. The hope is that they will, either by necessity or by concern, care about these and other issues sooner or later and probably they will not describe or see the welfare state as ‘something good for others or those in need’, definitively they will think as proactive members in the society and will include themselves in that.