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Major thinkers in welfare

Major thinkers in welfare: Contemporary issues in historical perspective

Vic George
Copyright Date: 2010
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  • Book Info
    Major thinkers in welfare
    Book Description:

    This is the first book to examine the views of a number of theorists from ancient times to the 19th century on a range of welfare issues: wealth, poverty and inequality; slavery, gender issues, and the family; child rearing and education; crime and punishment; the role of government in society; the strengths and weaknesses of government provision vis a vis market provision. The book also looks at the values of the various theorists as well as their perception of human nature for these tend to underpin their welfare views. The book will make essential reading for students of social policy, gender issues, community care, social work, and sociology.

    eISBN: 978-1-84742-707-6
    Subjects: Political Science

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-ii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. iii-vi)
  3. Introduction
    (pp. vii-xii)

    Like all other significant social science concepts – liberty, equality, justice, power and so on – the notion of welfare defies agreed definition. There is some agreement at the edges, at the superficial level, but this agreement disappears as one delves deeper into its detailed meaning.

    At the very basic material level, the notion of welfare refers to the individual’s basic material needs: food, water, clothing, housing, heating and suchlike needs. There is, however, no agreement on what exactly the phrase ‘suchlike needs’ covers or the level at which the agreed basic needs should be satisfied. There is even less...

  4. ONE Classical Athens Plato (427–347 BC); Aristotle (384–322 BC)
    (pp. 1-20)

    Ideas on welfare reflect in varying ways and degrees the author’s interpretation of existing reality. They can be an endorsement, a critique, a rejection, or a combination of these, of existing institutional arrangements. More often than not, ideas for reform are incremental – they depart only slightly from existing arrangements. Radical departures are rare and usually labelled utopian. But even these are reflections of existing reality – they are rejections of it in favour of some other type of arrangement that, in the eyes of the author, corrects the injustices or inefficiencies of existing society.

    The views of the two...

  5. TWO The Graeco-Roman world Epicurus (341–271 BC), Zeno (336–263 BC), Cicero (106–43 BC), Seneca (4 BC–65 AD) and Aurelius (121–180 AD)
    (pp. 21-40)

    Continuity and change have been constant features in the development of ideologies and theories of welfare throughout history. It is rarely possible to assign specific dates to the birth or death of ideologies or theories. They tend to emerge from the past and to merge into the future in gradual ways, sometimes to reappear under different guises later on in history. In most instances, it is impossible to say whether continuity or change is the dominant feature of development. Only in very rare cases is it possible to hazard an opinion.

    The development of the various ideologies of welfare during...

  6. THREE Early Christianity St Augustine (354–430), St Francis (1182–1226) and St Thomas Aquinas (1225–74)
    (pp. 41-60)

    The advent of Christianity has been one of the most significant events in the history of Europe and Western civilisation. Its teachings have had a profound influence on the lives of individuals and societies; and on ideas concerning the satisfaction of welfare needs. The New Testament and subsequent leading churchmen had a great deal to say about welfare, which affected people’s lives then and since.

    In this chapter, we are covering the first 13 centuries AD – from the very early period of Christianity, through the Middle Ages and down to the years immediately prior to the Renaissance. It is...

  7. FOUR The Renaissance Desiderius Erasmus (1467–1536) and Thomas More (1478–1535) The Reformation Martin Luther (1483–1545) and Jean Calvin (1509–64)
    (pp. 61-84)

    The late Middle Ages were ‘the threshold and the foothold’ of the Renaissance and the Reformation (Lindberg, 1996, p 24) for they witnessed the societal changes that contained the seeds for a gradual break with the past: the rise in trade and banking, the rural migration to the towns, the rediscovery of Greek learning, the impact of Arabic culture through the crusaders, the rise in literacy, the increased public perception of Church corruption and hence of anti-clericalism, the emergence of social values in support of wealth accumulation, the growth in nationalism that was anxious to reduce the power of the...

  8. FIVE Absolutism Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679) Liberalism John Locke (1632–1704)
    (pp. 85-106)

    This chapter examines the two main political ideologies that were spawned by the civil war and its aftermath in mid-17th-century England: the absolutism of Hobbes; and the liberalism of Locke. The central issues that divided them were the nature of government, the issue of private property, the nature of law, civil rights, social policy issues and religious tolerance (Peters, 1956, pp 33–5). The chapter will concentrate on the social policy issues far more than other discussions on these two thinkers.

    The main preoccupation of Hobbes and Locke was to devise a secular political theory that safeguarded individual security either...

  9. SIX Early feminism Mary Astell (1668–1731), Sophia and Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–97)
    (pp. 107-128)

    The same socio-economic forces that propelled the debates over men’s rights at such high speed during the 17th and 18th centuries also ushered in, haltingly and grudgingly, the debates over women’s rights – the ‘woman question’, as it was then known.

    The rising economic affluence, the growth of secular debates, the spread of education among the middle classes, increased urbanisation and the widening of geographical horizons provided the social environment for a few bold female spirits to speak out against their oppression. Of particular significance was the growth of the professional middle classes – lawyers, doctors, clerics – some of...

  10. SEVEN A welfare society Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712–78)
    (pp. 129-154)

    Rousseau’s educational theories would, by themselves, guarantee him a place in a volume of welfare thinkers. His position is strengthened further by his work on poverty and inequality, the role of government in public affairs, his stress on citizen participation and his views on gender issues. We begin, however, with his views on human nature for they are fundamental to his theories elsewhere.

    Although there is a tension between some of his major theses (O’Hagan, 2004), on balance, he is essentially a strong advocate of a community of equals where all participate in government decision-making; where they have some property...

  11. EIGHT The market, laissez-faire and welfare Adam Smith (1723–90)
    (pp. 155-178)

    Adam Smith did not write as much about welfare issues, as defined in this volume, as many other thinkers but what he had to say about the division of labour, competition, the invisible hand of the market, economic growth and the limited role of government has had a deep and lasting influence on welfare debates.

    His central message was that the unfettered operation of the market was enough to produce the economic growth that was necessary to satisfy the needs of all as well as the demand for luxuries by the few. Any intervention by the state in public affairs...

  12. NINE Democracy and welfare Thomas Paine (1737–1809)
    (pp. 179-200)

    Paine was the first major figure to argue for a fairly comprehensive system of social security benefits to prevent and alleviate poverty and has, as a result, been described by some as the ‘prophet of the modern welfare state’ (Canavan, 1963, p 658). To most people, however, Paine is known for his political ideas: as the staunchest supporter of democratic government against monarchical rule – he was ‘the prophet of democracy’ (Hearnshaw, 1931, p 140). His social security programme was tied to his political system, for he strongly believed that it could only be fulfilled in a democratic society. Vice...

  13. TEN Classical Marxism and welfare Karl Marx (1818–83) Frederick Engels (1820–95)
    (pp. 201-232)

    The arrival of Marxism reflected the industrial transformation of northern Europe and the rise in the size and power of the working class. By the 1840s when the publications of Marx and Engels began to appear, the industrialisation of England had been well and truly established – a historical fact so important that, in Engels’ view, it had ‘no counterpart in the annals of humanity’ (Engels, 1845, p 50). Advancing capitalist industrialisation had ‘a centralising effect’ on many other aspects of life: capital began to be concentrated in fewer hands; the workforce started being amassed in factories rather than in...

  14. ELEVEN Positive freedom and state welfare T.H. Green (1836–82)
    (pp. 233-254)

    By the last quarter of the 19th century, the ideology of laissez-faire was beginning to loosen its grip on government policy in the industrial countries of Europe. Successive governments in England had already introduced considerable legislation that went against the philosophy of government non-intervention in economic and social affairs: factory legislation that restricted the number of hours of work, or attempted to make working conditions less unsafe; public health legislation designed to prevent or limit the effects of epidemics in cities; several education acts that tried to improve the scope and level of education in the country; and legislation that...

  15. Bibliography
    (pp. 255-266)
  16. Index
    (pp. 267-274)
  17. Back Matter
    (pp. 275-275)