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Durham e-Theses
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Poverty and the state: a study of unemployment and social security in Britain.

Novak, Tony (1978) Poverty and the state: a study of unemployment and social security in Britain. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This thesis examines the nature and development of social security provision in a capitalist society. It begins with a consideration of poverty as wage labour, and traces the origins of social security as a response by successive ruling classes and by the emerging State to the problems involved in the creation and maintenance of wage labour in the transition from feudalism to capitalism. This theme is then continued in an examination of the Poor Law as an instrument of labour discipline through to and including the 1834, Poor Law amendment Act, where the impact of industrial capitalism not only on poverty and unemployment but also upon the structure of politics and the State is discussed. The second section of the thesis examines in closer detail the causes and problems of unemployment and the development of social reform and of national Insurance as a response to the problem in the period from 1880-1911. It is argued that it was in this period that the characteristic form of the present social security system was developed. In particular the New Liberalism, the ideology of social democracy and of citizenship, the attempt at working class incorporation, and the extension of State activity through social reform as an alternative against the threat of a more fundamental challenge to existing social relationships and inequalities are identified as having laid the foundation of the contemporary Welfare State. By way of conclusion the thesis considers the post-war development of social security from the Bevaridge Report to the present day. The continuing use of social security as a means of strengthening labour discipline is examined, and the political implications of its structure and administration arc discussed. Finally, some conclusions are drawn about the nature of the State in capitalist society, it's role in preserving class divisions and inequalities, and the limitations of social reform as a solution to the problems of poverty and unemployment within capitalism.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1978
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 15:34

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