The case of older people: social thought and divergent prescriptions for care

John Offer

in An intellectual history of British social policy

Published by Policy Press

Published in print January 2006 | ISBN: 9781861345318
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447301455 | DOI:
The case of older people: social thought and divergent prescriptions for care

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This chapter presents a ‘case study’ of theoretically grounded approaches to the care of older people. It starts by reporting the nature of Herbert Spencer's concern with the treatment of parents late in their lives by their offspring. It also examines the comments on older people of the majority report of 1909, and the minority report: both reports reflect what José Harris calls idealist styles of social thought. The importance of ‘idealist social thought’ and the ‘power’ of this concept, and the implied contrasting concept of ‘non-idealist social thought’ are explained. It then briefly emphasizes some recent developments in policy and research. It appears that the idea of ‘idealist social thought’ and the further distinction between idealist and non-idealist modes of thinking have a real potential to enhance the interpretation of the significant normative differences over the role of filial beneficence, domiciliary support from other sources and institution.

Keywords: older people; Herbert Spencer; idealist; social thought; non-idealist social thought; care; majority report; minority report; José Harris

Chapter.  7842 words. 

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