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Oxford University Press is a department of the University of Oxford. It furthers the University's objective of excellence in research, scholarship, and education by publishing worldwide.

Print Price: $145.00

474 pp.
138 mm x 216 mm


Publication date:
May 1995

Imprint: OUP UK

Citizen, State, and Social Welfare in Britain 1830-1990

Geoffrey Finlayson

In this book the late Geoffrey Finlayson presents a searching analysis of social welfare in Britain from 1830 until the present day. He explores the changing relationship betwen voluntarism and the state throughout this period, unravelling the complex interactions of government, commerce, and individuals. He examines the provision of welfare and the attitudes and beliefs surrounding it, in all its many guises from Victorian private philanthropy and informal social networks to the collectivist ideals of the Welfare State and the convictions of Thatcherite individualism.

Citizen, State, and Social Welfare in Britain is, in addition, an intellectual study of the concept of citizenship over the last two centuries, tracing developing notions of the duties and obligations implicit in the idea of the citizen, as well as the rights and entitlements.

Readership : Scholars and students of modern British history; social, political, and intellectual historians; historians and students of social policy.


  • 'important book ... His vast accumulation of data is deployed in consistent argument and analysis which is always judicial, never polemical ... its dense texture of fact and considered opinion will vastly reward any interested person willing to make the effort. It is a work of exceptional scope and enlightened intelligence as well as an advertisement for the voluntary benevolence it records.'
    Robert McLaughlan, The Herald
  • `It constitutes a fine memorial, tackling a big theme with impressive learnign and establishing a fresh perspective on what might seem a rather well-worn theme...an accessible and convincing account of welfare provision, speaking to the concerns of an era in which statism lost it former enchantments'
  • 'Finlayson is sensitive to the inadequacies of voluntary activity, but he is at pains to illustrate its variety in its contribution to social provision throughout the period. His inclusion of material on the commercial and informal sectors, and on mutual aid and self-help, is particularlu welcome and fills out our picture of voluntarism as a whole. A persuasive case is made in his book for a fruitful balance between diverse voluntary intitiatives and uniform state assistance.'
    Times Literary Supplement
  • `a carefully reasoned and meticulously documented study...Finlayson's work is a brilliant study of a largely neglected area of British history...masterful volume...this reviewer can only close by commending this volume as the valued legacy of a superb historian.'
  • `The book raises many fascinating and important questions about the history (and historiography) of welfare provision.'
    Labour History Review
  • `a book that gives us an unparalled aerial view of a central track of recent British political, social and intellectual history. ... meticulously scholarly and judicious work, which significantly re-defines the agenda of research and historical debate.'
    English Historical Review
  • `By avoiding the well-worn assumption that the history of welfare must be teleologically joined to the state, we have a remarkably rich sense of the considerable extent of the voluntary sector in the provision of social welfare in Britain from 1830 to 1990. We also have subtly drawn study of the constantly shifting boundaries between voluntarism and the state. Geoffrey Finlayson provides a connected historical narrative to powerful effect.'
    Charles Hamilton, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, vol. 24, no. 3, Fall 1995
  • `What a complex tapestry of benevolence and social engineering is portrayed here. This is a welcome work of synthesis, and the foot-notes and bibliography suggest how much research went into its creation ... we must be grateful not only to the late Geoffrey Finlayson but also to the members of his family who saw this work to completion.'
    James Stephen Taylor, West Georgia College, American Historical Review, February 1996

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