CALLING CITIZENS TO A MORAL WAY OF LIFE: A DUTCH EXAMPLE OF MORALIZED POLITICS
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This article offers a sociological analysis of the moral revisions that accompany welfare state reforms in the Netherlands. It is argued that Dutch welfare state reforms after the Cold War rely on moral discourses in particular and moral language in general to legitimize and effectuate policy measures. The Dutch reformers have been pursuing a set of strategies of moralization designed to adjust the Dutch welfare state to the new, post-Cold War situation, in which social policies are redesigned to support the operation of global markets. This article seeks to show how this 'moral revision' has been taking place by consulting data sources provided by Dutch media, policy documents, council reports, advices, speeches, and newspaper interviews. This implies that special attention is paid to the rhetoric, language, tones, symbolism, metaphors and moral images used and propagated by moral revisionists, elites and media, their definitions of the prevailing moral situation and of the desired one, their formulation of desired values and norms and the ways in which moral panics are aroused. Three recent Dutch policy innovations, namely the national debate on norms and values, the Charter Responsible Citizenship and the family policy memorandum, are interpreted as political strategies to re-engineer the new morality that can sustain a reformed state.
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