Active Solidarity and Its Discontents

Health Care Analysis 23 (3):207-220 (2015)
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Abstract

Traditional welfare states were based on passive solidarity. Able bodied, healthy minded citizens paid taxes and social premiums, usually according to a progressive taxation logic following the ability to pay principle. Elderly, fragile, weak, unhealthy and disabled citizens were taken care of in institutions, usually in quiet parts of the country. During the nineteen eighties and nineties of the twentieth century, ideas changed. Professionals, patients and policy makers felt that it would be better for the weak and fragile to live in mainstream society, rather than be taken care of in institutions outside society. This might be cheaper too. Hence policy measures were taken to accomplish deinstitutionalization. This article discusses the implications of deinstitutionalization for distributive justice. It is argued that the weakest among the weak and fragile stand to lose from this operation. For able bodied citizens deinstitutionalization entails a move from passive to active solidarity. Rather than just pay taxes they have to actively care for and help the needy themselves. The move from passive to active solidarity tends to take advantage of benevolent citizens and burden the socioeconomically disadvantaged. This may be a reason to reconsider the policy move toward deinstitutionalization

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