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The Achievement

  • Rodney Lowe
Chapter
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Abstract

The classic welfare state evolved in the 1940s for a variety of reasons. As has been seen, the least contentious of its initial objectives were functional: to make good ‘the failure of the market to control avoidable ills’ (which had become all too apparent between the wars) and to standardise the quality of public services (which evacuation had exposed as unacceptably uneven).1 Even so pragmatic an expansion in the role of government, however, had revolutionary consequences. All citizens were effectively guaranteed, for the first time in British history, equal welfare rights; and it was on the basis of such a guarantee — reflecting, so it was believed, a heightened sense of community during the war — that many came later to argue, more contentiously, that the essential objective of the welfare state was the creation of a more equal and altruistic society. Consequently the record of the classic welfare state has come conventionally to be judged by the twin criteria of efficiency and equality.

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Notes and References

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Copyright information

© Rodney Lowe 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Rodney Lowe
    • 1
  1. 1.University of BristolUK

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