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Durham e-Theses
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Social reform in Edwardian liberalism: the genesis of the policies of national insurance and old age pensions, 1906-11

Smith, Neil (1972) Social reform in Edwardian liberalism: the genesis of the policies of national insurance and old age pensions, 1906-11. Masters thesis, Durham University.



The aim of this thesis is the analysis of the various pressures in late Victorian and Edwardian society which contributed to the genesis of the pension and national insurance legislation of 1908 and 1911. Many aspects of the social and political environment around the turn of the century are, therefore, outlined and discussed - the growth of ‘awareness' about the social gulf in society and the state of those in, or on the brink of poverty; economic problems; political circumstances and pressures; and prevailing ideologies and philosophies. The relationship between these considerations and policy-making is the crux of the matter and this is elaborated by the study of private and official papers and contemporary speeches. Although it is vital to ascertain the relative importance of the multitudinous factors to decision-making, we can never say anything absolutely definite about the relationship because it is the human mind with which we are concerned, complicated by the time factor. Conclusions are, nevertheless, essential and are valid if based on informed speculation, although may vary according to the predilections of the individual politicians. Conclusions about the genesis of social reform in Edwardian Liberalism necessitate the erection of a three-tier structure. There were the preconditions of a social policy - the existence of an urban industrial society and its concomitant evils. There were opinion-creating factors such as social revelations, national efficiency and social imperialist ideologies and the existence of foreign examples of state-sponsored social security schemes. Finally, there were catalytic pressures within the Edwardian period, such as economic depression and the threat of Tariff Reform. The whole cumulative pressure made pension and national insurance policies a political and social necessity.

Item Type:Thesis (Masters)
Award:Master of Arts
Thesis Date:1972
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:14 Mar 2014 16:49

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