The Formation of Modern Egalitarianism

Henry Phelps Brown

in Egalitarianism and the Generation of Inequality

Published in print November 1988 | ISBN: 9780198286486
Published online November 2003 | e-ISBN: 9780191596773 | DOI:
 The Formation of Modern Egalitarianism

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This chapter looks at the formation of modern egalitarianism from the 1880s up to the 1970s, principally with respect to Britain. Principles that had served to guide reform, and to adapt the institutions of the country in some measure to its ever‐growing population and its new ways of life, were now proving unequal to the challenge of social disorders that had been worsened by a depression of unprecedented length and severity, and thrown into prominence by the increased political weight of the working man who had suffered most from them. New political alignments were being propelled by ideas which, although long present in some people's minds, impinged on the present times with a force drawn from their applicability to increasingly insistent problems; thereby they tempered or displaced the prevailing orthodoxy, and a new cast of liberal countenance took shape. In one form or another, it was to dominate social policy for most of the next 90 years, which were to be years of application rather than origination, adding something to the content of egalitarianism, and seeing changes that greatly affected its acceptance; but its lineaments had already been apparent in the pressures on social policy that rose in the 1880s, and the ideas that were shaped or propagated then. The first four sections of the chapter look at all this happening in Britain, while the last discusses differences of attitude in the USA.

Keywords: Britain; depression; egalitarianism; equality; history; institutions; liberalism; reform; social disorder; social policy; USA; workers

Chapter.  18828 words. 

Subjects: Public Economics

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