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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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Reflections on social evils and human nature

Reflections on social evils and human nature

(p.214) (p.215) 18 Reflections on social evils and human nature
Contemporary social evils

Matthew Taylor

Policy Press

The greatest evil is society's retreat in the face of rampant individualism. The public leans towards behavioural rather than structural accounts of social fragmentation, with the poorest — perhaps reflecting their own day-to-day experiences — most inclined to highlight pathologies like criminality, drug use and family breakdown. Social pessimism is seen as an aspect of modernity only to the extent that there are higher expectations and the opportunity exists to wallow in doubts. A theory of affluence and its discontents, a theory of human development and transition, an account of the fundamental forms of social relations are investigated. The conditions between the end of the Depression and the end of the Second World War created the right context and encouraged the right techniques for a hierarchical orientation to become dominant in the succeeding decades. The human race has made great strides. But progress has been interspersed with error and tragedy.

Keywords:   social evils, human nature, reflection, individualism, criminality, drug use, family breakdown, affluence, human development

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