Welfare as Citizenship

  • Ramesh Mishra


Unlike social administration the citizenship view offers a descriptive (rather than prescriptive) and generalising perspective on welfare, albeit one that is confined to state welfare and its development in Western democratic societies. In a now-famous essay, published shortly after the war, Marshall put forward the view of the social services as a component of citizenship rights in the modern democratic state.1 To be precise, however, Marshall’s work is concerned with Britain and makes no claim for more general validity. Can its basic argument be generalised for Western societies as a whole? Marshall’s discussion is limited to Britain, but he writes as a sociologist2 rather than as a social historian concerned solely with British developments. His analysis seems to be about welfare in a generic sense even if the setting is British. Thus as a sociological explanation his work may be seen as having some general validity for societies similar to Britain. In any case the concept of citizenship rights has had a wide currency as a valid interpretation of certain social and political developments in modern nation-states. Sociologists of varying theoretical persuasion, for example Parsons, Bendix and Lenski, have found Marshall’s concept useful.3 The citizenship view of welfare can therefore be seen as valid for at least Western industrial countries, whose political and economic structure is broadly similar to that of Britain.


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Notes and References

  1. 1.
    ‘Citizenship and Social Class’, first published in 1950, is included in T. H. Marshall, Sociology at the Crossroads and Other Essays (London: Heinemann, 1963)Google Scholar
  2. 3.
    See for example Talcott Parsons, The System of Modern Societies (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1971);Google Scholar
  3. Reinhard Bendix, Nation-Building and Citizenship (New York: John Wiley, 1964);Google Scholar
  4. Gerhard Lenski, Power and Privilege (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1966).Google Scholar
  5. 5.
    Of the many concepts of contrasting social order formulated in the nineteenth century, Tönnies’s Gemeinschaft (community) and Gesellschaft (association) is one of the best known. See, for example, Robert A. Nisbet, The Sociological Tradition (London: Heinemann, 1967) pp. 71–82;Google Scholar
  6. Peter Worsley and others, Introducing Sociology (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1970) ch. 6.Google Scholar
  7. 8.
    Dorothy Wedderburn. ‘Facts and Theories of the Welfare State’, in The Socialist Register 1965, ed. Ralph Miliband and John Saville (London: Merlin, 1965) p. 139.Google Scholar
  8. 16.
    A. V. Dicey, Law and Public Opinion in England (London: Macmillan, 1962).Google Scholar
  9. 21.
    The value judgement involved in defining what is to count as social right can be seen, for example, from Dahrendorf’s assertion that ‘equality of educational opportunity is a basic right of every citizen’. This is a far cry from the idea that every child should be entitled to a basic minimum of education. See Ralf Dahrendorf, ‘Citizenship and Beyond: The Social Dynamics of an Idea’, Social Research, vol. 41, 1974, p. 682.Google Scholar
  10. 23.
    While free public education for all became established by midnineteenth century, it was not until the 1930s that the social rights of income maintenance made a start. Housing and medical care have yet to be recognised as social rights. For an attempt to explain the liberalisation of public assistance programmes in the United States as the extension of citizenship, especially social rights, see Kirsten A. Gronbjerg, Mass Society and the Extension of Welfare 1960–1970 (University of Chicago Press, 1977).Google Scholar
  11. 24.
    Bismarck’s social insurance legislation was passed after the suppression of political rights (albeit for the socialists only). While the German state did a good deal to improve and extend social benefits during the years before the First World War, neither political nor industrial democracy made any headway. See Koppel S. Pinson, Modern Germany (London: Macmillan, 1966) pp. 156–60, 245–6;Google Scholar
  12. John H. Herz, The Government of Germany (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1972) pp. 45–6.Google Scholar
  13. See also Ralf Dahrendorf, Society and Democracy in Germany (London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1968) pp. 38–42.Google Scholar
  14. 32.
    On Marx see Ch. 5 and on Spencer and Durkheim Ch. 4 below. See also Robert Pinker, Social Theory and Social Policy (London: Heinemann, 1971) ch. 1.Google Scholar
  15. 33.
    Julia Parker, Social Policy and Citizenship (London: Macmillan, 1975) p. 41.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 37.
    Julia Parker’s valuable discussion in Social Policy and Citizenship seems to me to pay insufficient attention to this point. Or to put it in another way she does not clarify the relationship between her three basic models of social policy — laissez-faire, liberal and socialist — and the idea of ‘citizenship’. The latter often appears as a fourth model. Clearly, citizenship means something rather different in each of the three major models. Thus the laissez-faire view might stress the right of citizens to do things for themselves and not to be pushed around by the state. The social-democratic view of citizenship, on the other hand, might emphasise social rights far more. The neglected question of the citizens’ obligations as the counterpart of rights also deserves attention. On this last point see William A. Robson, Welfare State and Welfare Society (London: Allen & Unwin, 1976) pp. 38–41.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Ramesh Mishra 1981

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ramesh Mishra
    • 1
  1. 1.McMaster UniversityOntarioCanada

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