Eugenics in Britain: The View from the Metropole

Lucy Bland and Lesley Hall

in The Oxford Handbook of the History of Eugenics

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780195373141
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Eugenics in Britain: The View from the Metropole


This article discusses the impact of eugenics in Britain. It discusses eugenics as a biological way of thinking about social, economic, political, and cultural change. It gives scientific credibility to prejudices, anxieties, and fears that are prevalent primarily among the middle and upper classes. It delineates the tensions between “classic” and “reform”, although this is only one modality along which to align the complex factors that polarized the society—some of them ideological, some of them about tactics, and some based on personalities. It gives a detailed description of the differentiation of societies' activities into study and practice. The social problem group; research into contraceptive methods; family allowances; race mixture; and immigration are discussed. The practices are divided into negative and positive. Finally, this article concludes that eugenicists see feeblemindedness as hereditary, emblematic of degeneracy, and contributes to numerous social problems, such as poverty and unemployment.

Keywords: eugenics; Britain; study; practice; feeblemindedness; social problems

Article.  6913 words. 

Subjects: History ; British History

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