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Dead theorists and older people : Spencer, idealist social thought and divergent prescriptions for care

Offer, John (2004) Dead theorists and older people : Spencer, idealist social thought and divergent prescriptions for care. Sociology : the Journal of the British Sociological Association, 38 (5). pp. 891-908. ISSN 0038-0385

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Abstract

The years between 1880 and 1910 saw a great deal of discussion of social policy issues, including the circumstances of elderly people. Whilst considerable attention has been paid to proposals for old-age pensions, little has been said on ideas of care and the social theory which nourished them. This article discusses the views on care of Herbert Spencer, and those expressed in the majority and minority reports of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws of 1909, conventionally described as representing the views of the Bosanquets and the Webbs respectively. Spencer's concern with "filial obligation" is examined, and the differing emphases on institutional care and compulsion between the Bosanquets and the Webbs are discussed. The theoretical and conceptual roots of these positions are analysed, drawing on recent work which suggests that whereas Spencer's thought is non-idealist, that of the others is fundamentally idealist, with agreement over social ends, but not the means to their realization. The article clarifies key divergences in social and political principles in thinking about care for older people, with relevance to present-day circumstances.

Item Type: Article
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Date Deposited: 14 Jan 2016 10:49
Last Modified: 14 Jan 2016 10:49
URI: http://webbs.library.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/836

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