The development of welfare systems was one of the defining characteristics of the 20th century, especially in Europe. However, in times of change, it will be important to re-think “the welfare state”. The title of the research programme Welfare State Futures emphasizes that the future is not pre- determined. Countries have choices about how to respond to economic and social challenges, and their choices will shape the future of their welfare states.
Research on the welfare state is a well-developed field in social science, based on various theoretical approaches and a long tradition of comparative studies. However, the aim of this programme is to encourage innovative thinking: to stimulate novel research questions, to orient research towards the future, and to bring disciplines together in collective and comparative projects. In these ways, it hopes to foster theoretical, conceptual and methodological innovation.