History of Social Policy

Topics: Labour Party, United Kingdom, Laissez-faire Pages: 7 (2256 words) Published: June 6, 2011
History of social policy
1.Explain the meaning of the following terms: industrialisation; urbanisation; public health problems and the implications for state provisions
The Industrial Revolution was a period from the 18th to the 19th century where major changes in agriculture, manufacturing, mining, and technology had an extreme effect on the society’s economic and cultural conditions. Starting in the United Kingdom, then consequently spreading throughout Europe, North America, and ultimately the world. The Industrial Revolution marks a major turning point in history. Almost every feature of daily life was influenced in some way. Most particularly, average income and population began to exhibit extraordinary sustained growth. This is known as urbanisation.

Urbanisation is the increase in the proportion of people living in towns and cities. Rapid urbanisation took place during this period of industrialisation, many people moved from rural to urban areas to get jobs in the rapidly expanding industries in many large towns and cities. It is estimated that 1/6 of the British population visited London during the 18th century, and the most adventurous and ambitious stayed. This urbanisation had huge implications and resulted in complex societal changes which had adverse effects on the public health of communities. Diseases like typhoid and cholera were common. An outbreak of cholera in 1848 killed 14,000 in London. This was due to the housing shortages, sanitation problems, low standards of personal hygiene, polluted drinking water, exploitation of workers and widespread poverty.

Great Britain in the nineteenth century was a great bastion of individualism where that unsympathetic principle of the political economists -laissez faire- dominated public opinion, and Parliament. The individualist theory of government holds that the position of state is to protect the liberty of individuals to act as they wish, as long as they do not infringe upon the liberties of others. Although there has been extended debate over whether this “age of -laissez faire” gave way to an “age of collectivism,” This is the period regarded as the source for the widespread collectivism that would follow. Collectivism At its root is the belief that a collective is more than just individuals interacting together. It is the belief that the group is an entity itself, more important than the sum of the individuals. Put simply by John F. Kennedy “Ask not what your country can do for you. Ask what you can do for your country.” And that is exactly what happened, In 1875 state intervention meant that a public health act was passed. This implemented that all new residential construction had to include running water, and an internal drainage system. Also the act meant that all towns had to have pavements and street lights. Yet there was still alot that needed to be done which meant more state intervention was necessary. The national insurance scheme introduced by the liberal government in 1911, gave most workers health insurance and unemployment benefits for workers in industries with high risks of unemployment. But by the 1920s and 1930s the economic depression and widespread unemployment meant that the national insurance scheme was paying out more that it recieved. Benefits were cut and a means test was imposed. This did not change a thing however, poverty was pervasive and particularly among the families of the unemployed. 2. Assess the relationship between laissez faire and ideas of welfare and poverty in the 19th century. Give examples including reference to the poor laws.

The original people that believed in and encouraged laissez-faire were the physiocrats (political economists). The physiocrats were followers of the physiocrat school of economic thought, and were in a way the predecessors of classical economists. Although some of their more renowned ideas were very backwards, like believing that only land (physical assets) produced revenue, they...
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