On 23 October 2019, the IILJ held a History and Theory of International Law workshop on The Emergence of the Concept of a ‘Welfare State’ in British Political Discourse, 1940-1950. The political ideal of a welfare state proved surprisingly weak in the 1980s when faced with a resurgent free-market ideology. Today, the social scientific concept of ‘welfare state’ is remarkably unstable, ill-defined, and confused. David Garland’s project investigates this state of affairs by means of genealogical inquiries that trace the lines of descent and moments of emergence that led up to the present. The workshop paper examines the emergence of the concept in Britain in the years after the Second World War. It shows how the concept was developed and adopted after the legislative enactment of the programs to which it usually refers, not prior to them, and it discusses the term’s ambiguity, range of meanings, and essentially contested character. Martti Koskenniemi and Steven Lukes served as commentators. Benedict Kingsbury and Karin Loevy served as moderators.