Such public discussion rehearses our worst fears and reassures us that the problems are being tackled. In this way the ‘needs of strangers’ (Ignatieff 1987) are taken care of while we continue pursuing our own interests and projects. Thus it is possible to find research evidence which shows the persistence of collectivist beliefs in the welfare state and the care of those in need (West et al. 1984) at a time when voting patterns have favoured policies which reduce public expenditure and lower taxation. To say the least, ‘dependent groups’ exist in social circumstances of some ambiguity.