Together these papers present a picture of the economic background to the welfare state as it appears today, a description of the changes that have occurred over the last several years, with details of some developments in certain specific areas. In particular, the conference addressed the concept of economic rationalism, and considered its impact on social policies over the last decade. Laksiri Jayasuriya examines the notions of citizenship and welfare through the works of the British intellectual, T. H. Marshall, emphasising the need to distinguish between the means and ends of social policies. Peter Saunders presents an overview of developments in Australia in the last decade, focusing on economic performance, the role of the public sector and economic inequality within an international context. He then discusses economic rationalism and describes some of the social policy changes associated with it. Jonathan Bradshaw, Visiting Fellow at the SPRC from the University of York, presents a picture of the developments in British society, in particular the growth of income inequality, over the last decade and a half. Sara Graham describes approaches to the provision of community support services which have developed within a social climate dominated by economic considerations. Finally, Jim Ife examines the concept of 'community based' services, relating ideas of rights and citizenship to communities and their individual members within a welfare state increasingly affected by changes in the economic climate and the growth of economic rationalism.