Traditional approaches: disability policy and the welfare state

Colin Barnes and Geof Mercer

in Independent futures

Published by Policy Press

Published in print April 2006 | ISBN: 9781861347183
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302599 | DOI:
Traditional approaches: disability policy and the welfare state

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This chapter provides an overview of social policies that have influenced the lives of people with impairments, and how these have changed historically across different political and economic contexts. First, it outlines available assistance from the 17th to the early 20th century for individuals broadly categorised as ‘sick and infirm’. Second, it reviews the consolidation of the welfare state in the 1940s. The final section outlines the reforms since the 1970s to the welfare state and public sector provision. Initiatives from both Conservative and New Labour governments promoted a ‘mixed economy of welfare’ and consumerism, along with novel forms of governance, but these failed to deliver major progress in overturning the social exclusion of disabled people.

Keywords: social policy; disability policy; welfare state; disabled; mixed economy of welfare; consumerism; social exclusion

Chapter.  7490 words. 

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