Chapter

Idealist thought, social policy and the rediscovery of informal 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: http://dx.doi.org/10.1332/policypress/9781861345318.003.0007
Idealist thought, social policy and the rediscovery of informal care

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This chapter argues that the marked upswing of interest in informal care in the UK beginning in the 1970s reflected a reaction to some features of the work of Richard Titmuss and ‘traditional social administration’, work that, on examination, reveals a distinctive ‘idealist’ core, unsympathetic to research into familial patterns of caring. It first addresses some of the new work in the history of social welfare. It then examines how it can be built upon to help answer the question, itself sociologically interesting, of why the study of social policy appears to have developed research interests in informal care only since the 1970s. Furthermore, it explicitly reintroduces problems associated with Whig interpretations of the ‘welfare state’ to account for the continuing neglect of material on informal care dating from the end of the nineteenth century.

Keywords: idealist thought; social policy; informal care; Richard Titmuss; traditional social administration; social welfare; Whig interpretations; welfare state

Chapter.  8064 words. 

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