Welfare and Social Policy in Britain Since 1870: Essays in Honour of Jose Harris by Lawrence Goldman (Senior Research Fellow, Senior Research Fellow, St. Peter's College, University of Oxford)
This collection of twelve essays reviews the history of welfare in Britain over the past 150 years. It focuses on the ideas that have shaped the development of British social policy, and on the thinkers who have inspired and also contested the welfare state. It thereby constructs an intellectual history of British welfare since the concept first emerged at the end of the nineteenth century. The essays divide into four sections. The first considers the transition from laissez-faire to social liberalism from the 1870s, and the enduring impact of late-Victorian philosophical idealism on the development of the welfare state. It focuses on the moral philosophy of T. H. Green and his influence on key figures in the history of British social policy like William Beveridge, R. H. Tawney, and William Temple. The second section is devoted to the concept of 'planning' which was once, in the mid-twentieth century, at the heart of social policy and its implementation, but which has subsequently fallen out of favour. A third section examines the intellectual debate over the welfare state since its creation in the 1940s. Though a consensus seemed to have emerged during the Second World War over the desirability and scope of a welfare state extending 'from the cradle to the grave', libertarian and conservative critiques endured and re-emerged a generation later. A final section examines social policy and its implementation more recently, both at grass roots level in a study of community action in West London in the districts made infamous by the fire at Grenfell Tower in 2017, and at a systemic level where different models of welfare provision are shown to be in uneasy co-existence today. The collection is a tribute to Jose Harris, emeritus professor of history in the University of Oxford and a pioneer of the intellectual history of social policy. Taken together, these essays conduct the reader through the key phases and debates in the history of British welfare.