In this volume, we include a range of international articles which grapple with welfare theory and its approaches, including issues relating to the transformation of welfare and discussions about the nature and influence of social policy. The contemporary welfare state debate revolves around changing definitions of arid ideas about welfare, the changing institutions responsible for its delivery, the implementation of welfare legislation and policy, and the practices in and through which welfare is delivered, which, in Bob Jessop's (1999) terms, is the area of welfare governance. There seems to be some agreement that claims as to the dismantling of the welfare state and the welfare state crisis are overstated, e.g., Paul Pierson (1996) notes its resilience and durability and institutional entrenchment in modem Western democracies. For him, patterns of welfare reform do not mirror welfare state development and thus, the 'past predicts the future' notion is insufficient to deal with the complexities configuring the diverse forms of the contemporary welfare state. Clearly, service-oriented professionals, with their values and knowledge base firmly grounded in humanitarian - ethical - concerns (Bauman, 2000; see also Wilensky, 1964), are likely to feel more displaced than most professions by the changes to welfare rationalities since the 1970s.