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Contemporary social evils$
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Joseph Rowntree Foundation

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9781847424099

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781847424099.001.0001

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‘Social evils’ and ‘social problems’ in Britain since 1904

‘Social evils’ and ‘social problems’ in Britain since 1904

Chapter:
(p.5) 2 ‘Social evils’ and ‘social problems’ in Britain since 1904
Source:
Contemporary social evils
Author(s):

Jose Harris

Publisher:
Policy Press
DOI:10.1332/policypress/9781847424099.003.0002

The phrase Social problem suggests an undesirable state of affairs for which people hope to find a practical cure, whereas social evil may imply a degree of scepticism, realism or despair about whether any remedy can be found. The overall impact of Edwardian public inquiries turned out to be cautiously optimistic, reassuring and anti-alarmist in tone. The aftermath of First World War saw a resurgence of anxiety about social relations in Britain; but this was to take a very different form from that of the Edwardian decade. The inter-war phenomenon of mass unemployment exactly fitted the notion of a dire social evil. Many aspects of contemporary social evils have come about because the very nature of that prosperity has in certain aspects been corrosive of interpersonal and communal ties, and even pathological in its influence on social relations and human behaviour.

Keywords:   social problem, social evil, Britain, Edwardian public inquiries, First World War, mass unemployment, social relations, human behaviour

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