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An intellectual history of British social policyIdealism versus non-idealism$
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John Offer

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9781861345318

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861345318.001.0001

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Idealist thought, social policy and the rediscovery of informal care

Idealist thought, social policy and the rediscovery of informal care

(p.129) six Idealist thought, social policy and the rediscovery of informal care
An intellectual history of British social policy

John Offer

Policy Press

This chapter argues that the marked upswing of interest in informal care in the UK beginning in the 1970s reflected a reaction to some features of the work of Richard Titmuss and ‘traditional social administration’, work that, on examination, reveals a distinctive ‘idealist’ core, unsympathetic to research into familial patterns of caring. It first addresses some of the new work in the history of social welfare. It then examines how it can be built upon to help answer the question, itself sociologically interesting, of why the study of social policy appears to have developed research interests in informal care only since the 1970s. Furthermore, it explicitly reintroduces problems associated with Whig interpretations of the ‘welfare state’ to account for the continuing neglect of material on informal care dating from the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords:   idealist thought, social policy, informal care, Richard Titmuss, traditional social administration, social welfare, Whig interpretations, welfare state

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