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The idea of a universal basic income is one of the most powerful and resonant policy proposals in contemporary public debate, and has received fresh impetus from the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the intellectual roots of the idea remain under-explored, and the prevailing narrative of the history of UBI mainly reflects its supporters’ efforts to establish a historical lineage for their proposals. This introduction considers what a more rigorously historical approach to UBI might look like. It argues that historical understanding of UBI would benefit from greater sensitivity to the language and context of different schemes, the diverse objectives of basic income supporters, the ways in which political cultures and existing welfare structures mediate the reception of UBI proposals, and the role of networks in the development of a global basic income movement.

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Sloman, P., Zamora Vargas, D., Ramos Pinto, P. (2021). Introduction. In: Sloman, P., Zamora Vargas, D., Ramos Pinto, P. (eds) Universal Basic Income in Historical Perspective. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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