Utopia calling: eradicating child poverty in the United Kingdom and beyond

Ruth Levitas

in Global Child Poverty and Well-being

Published by Policy Press

Published in print February 2012 | ISBN: 9781847424822
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447307235 | DOI:
Utopia calling: eradicating child poverty in the United Kingdom and beyond

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This chapter draws on the legacy of Eleanor Rathbone, an early twentieth-century British campaigner for family allowances, and her aspirations for a society without child poverty. It deploys ‘utopia as method’ both to explore the inadequacy of current policies aimed at reducing child poverty and to consider the principles on which society would have to be organised to ensure the effective eradication, rather than merely alleviation, of child poverty. Utopia as method entails looking systemically and holistically at social institutions, social processes and their outcomes. The core principles identified as necessary to eliminating child poverty are: promoting equality; revaluing care, and considering the total social organisation of labour in society both within and beyond the market; rethinking what counts as production and wealth; universal child benefit and a guaranteed basic income or citizen's income; making sustainability central; and prioritising human flourishing and well-being. The chapter focuses primarily on the UK, but the framework has general relevance. It broadens out into a global perspective on the kind of society that would secure the rights of children to economic and social security and the development of the child's personality, talents and mental and physical abilities to their fullest potential.

Keywords: Rathbone; utopia; child benefit; unpaid work; equality

Chapter.  10436 words. 

Subjects: Social Stratification, Inequality, and Mobility

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