The politics of austerity and social citizenship rights: a case study of the impact of the 2008 financial crisis on the welfare state in Portugal

Filipe Duarte*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Types of ThesisDoctoral Thesis


This dissertation focuses on the process and degree of welfare retrenchment under the paradigm of austerity following the 2008 financial crisis. It provides a detailed account of the austerity measures on cash benefits of social citizenship rights - minimum income, unemployment insurance and old-age pensions - adopted in Portugal between 2010 and 2014. This dissertation also offers a comprehensive framework for defining the rights of social citizenship in 21st century capitalist market economies derived from two theoretical approaches: Marshall's social citizenship framework and Esping-Andersen's approach on welfare provision and redistribution. The author puts forward the thesis that the austerity measures adopted in Portugal between 2010 and 2014 have considerably eroded the degree of decommodification of the public welfare provision of cash benefits which are part of social citizenship rights in Portugal. It is argued that the reduction in public spending and the cumulative effect of multiple policy changes in exchange for a €78 billion financial bailout were very damaging to the entitlements of social protection. Furthermore, the dissertation also confirms that EU policies of balanced budgets that constitutionalize lower public deficits undermine the constitutional principles of social citizenship fulfillment between the state and its citizens. The austerity measures, either proposed or fully adopted by the Portuguese authorities between 2010 and 2014, were based on certain ideological assumptions and economic beliefs that do not serve the interests of the most vulnerable and working-class people. The recommendations explore both, directions for policy, as well as for future research. A more egalitarian redistribution of cash benefits for citizens from European member states within the Eurozone, like Portugal, is being proposed because questions of public debt, sustainability of public expenditure, inflation, budgetary consolidation and unemployment, will continue to arise within the European Union.
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Awarding Institution
  • Carleton University
  • Moscovitch, Allan, Supervisor, External person
  • Shewell, Hugh, Co-supervisor, External person
  • Hurrelmann, Achim, Co-supervisor, External person
Award date15 Feb 2019
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Austerity
  • Social citizenship
  • Social policy
  • Portugal
  • Financial crisis
  • Welfare state
  • Political economy
  • Welfare capitalism
  • Social work


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