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Scandal, social policy and social welfare2nd, Rev. Ed$
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Ian Butler

Print publication date: 2005

Print ISBN-13: 9781861347466

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: March 2012

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781861347466.001.0001

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‘Household happiness, gracious children’:

‘Household happiness, gracious children’:

Children, welfare and public policy, 1840–1970

(p.61) four ‘Household happiness, gracious children’:
Scandal, social policy and social welfare

Ian Butler

Mark Drakeford

Policy Press

This chapter reviews almost 200 years of public policy bearing on the welfare of children in Britain. It shows that the legislative outcomes of policy appear reactive, sporadic, and opportunistic, with little progress towards a rational consensus. Instead, these years were characterised by the ebb and flow of several competing discourses around such matters as the boundary between the state and the family, the essential nature of the child, the balance of power between the courts and the agents of the local state, and the competing claims of various professional or occupational groups. The chapter proceeds from a social-constructionist point of view, and recognises that the history of public policy is both a cause and an effect of wider shifts in the general understanding of what it means to be a child. It also discusses baby farming and the colonisation of the family, the prevention of cruelty to children, and the Children Act of 1908.

Keywords:   Britain, welfare, children, public policy, baby farming, colonisation, family, cruelty, 1908 Children Act

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