Dalhousie Law Journal


Welfare State, Property, primary goal, welfare state, individual dignity, decent standard of living, sense of self-worth, opportunity


A primary goal of the welfare state is to promote individual dignity by guaranteeing a decent standard of living for all. The individual's ability to achieve a sense of self-worth turns on the opportunity to participate in, and contribute to, society in a meaningful fashion. Achievement of such goals is seriously undermined for those who do not have their basic needs guaranteed; shelter, food, health, and education are vital interests of the individual which, if not available in sufficient quantity or quality, hamper or make impossible the opportunity to achieve self-dignity and respect. The instruments for guaranteeing the substratum of support in a welfare state can be multilayered and variegated in nature. Ideally, all individuals would be able to look after their own needs by having access to work. However, it is clear that no modem society has ever been able to guarantee productive jobs for all. There are many who cannot work, such as the young, the infirm, and the elderly. During processes of rapid change, workers are forced out of jobs because they possess skills which are not readily adaptable to new environments, processes, and technologies.