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Social Security, Class Struggle and the Reproduction of Capital

  • Norman Ginsburg
Chapter
Part of the Critical Texts in Social Work and the Welfare State book series

Abstract

In this and the following chapter we shall examine aspects of poor relief and social security administration and policy in England and Wales since the early nineteenth century. The terms poor relief and social security are generic terms, neither of which are really adequate, but we shall be concentrating here on cash payments by the parish or the state to those people variously defined as ‘in need’. Clearly such payments are a central pillar of the welfare state, which have saved many people from destitution and starvation. As long ago as 1921 social security expenditure formed 4.7 per cent of the gross national product, rising to 6.7 per cent in 1931 amidst mass unemployment. Such proportions were not reached again until the 1960s, but by 1975 it had reached 9.5 per cent.1 Social security has provided essential material support to working-class people who fall on hard times in a whole variety of circumstances. The growth in the level and coverage of benefits has been linked to the growth of working-class strength and organisation in the struggle towards the improvement of their living conditions. In that sense the social security system is a product of class struggle. It is unlikely that drastic cuts in the level of and eligibility for benefits would be possible aside from a general context of a massive defeat of the working class as a whole.

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Notes and References

  1. 1.
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Copyright information

© Norman Ginsburg 1979

Authors and Affiliations

  • Norman Ginsburg
    • 1
  1. 1.CoventryUK

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