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Helen Bosanquet

(1860—1925) social theorist and social reformer


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An important figure in poor relief at a time of increasing activism and conceptual development in this area. A core member of the Charity Organisation Society (COS), she worked closely with its Secretary and dominant force, C. S. Loch. It was through the COS that she met her husband, philosopher and fellow activist, Bernard Bosanquet. The COS aimed to rationalize philanthropic endeavour and to instil principles of self-help into its recipients. Through its development of case work, it laid the foundations of the social work profession. Bosanquet described the formation and principles of the COS in Social Work in London 1869–1912 (1914).

Appointed to the Royal Commission on the Poor Law in 1905, investigating the system of provision for the destitute that had come under increasing criticism, she contributed to the subsequent majority report and published a summary of it as The Poor Law Report of 1909 (1909). The report argued for a synthesis of the systems of public and voluntary support which would combine coherent and consistent criteria for relief with sensitivity to the particular circumstances of the claimants (including moral evaluation and consideration of possible negative effects of relief). Bosanquet's other writings include Rich and Poor (1896) and The Family (1915).

From A Dictionary of Sociology in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Sociology.



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