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J Law Soc. 2011;38(3):343-75.

Images of welfare in law and society: the British welfare state in comparative perspective.

Author information

1
Cardiff University, Wales.

Abstract

Designed by Beveridge and built by Attlee's post-war Labour government, the welfare state was created during the 1940s. Britain has been seen – in domestic debates and internationally – as a world first: the place where both the idea and the practice of the welfare state were invented. I draw together comparative welfare state analysis with law and society scholarship (previously largely developed in isolation from one another) – as well as using British political cartoons as a source – to develop a revisionist historical critique of this conventional wisdom. First, the British welfare state has always been comparatively parsimonious. Second, the idea of the welfare state seems to have its origins outside the United Kingdom and this terminology was adopted relatively late and with some ambivalence in public debate and scholarly analysis. Third, a large body of socio-legal scholarship shows that robust ‘welfare rights’ were never embedded in the British ‘welfare state’.

PMID:
22073431
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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