This article introduces democratic forums as a method of studying attitudes towards the welfare state, and sets out briefly its strengths and weaknesses in comparison with existing methods. This is done by reporting the findings of a 2015 two-day forum based in the United Kingdom, in which the future of the welfare state was discussed by a largely representative sample of participants. The results show that participants linked both moral and economic arguments to come to two major framings that could encompass the debates surrounding the future of welfare states. One focuses on the inefficiencies of the welfare state, which found that welfare resources were largely misdirected and unsustainable. The other focuses on the possibilities for improving it via social investment, for example providing individuals with better training and education opportunities. The democratic forum method is helpful in allowing researchers to investigate the conceptual framings people use when thinking about the welfare state, and to see how people link different concepts and justifications together to argue their position. We argue that such framing can be distinct from that used and understood by policymakers and academics, and those applied in the more commonly used large scale surveys.