Introduction: The Road from 1945

  • Rodney Lowe
Part of the Contemporary History in Context book series (CHIC)


The essays in this volume originated as papers in the 1995 conference of the Institute of Contemporary British History on British History, 1945–1995: the state of the art. The dual purpose of the conference was both to take stock of the existing literature and to identify ways in which the writing of contemporary history could be made more rigorous and challenging. Welfare policy attracted a disproportionate number of papers at the conference, actively reflecting the variety and vitality of research in this area. At an international level, for instance, the work of Peter Flora and the current initiatives of both the Swedish Institute for Social Research and the French Ministère des Affaires Sociales, de la Santé et de la Ville, have provided a focus for comparative work.1 At an interdisciplinary level, experts in social policy, sociology, political science and economics have examined in depth the fundamental causes, mechanics and rationality of policy change. The richness of the resulting research is reflected in the succeeding essays. Methodologically, they vary from broad surveys to detailed case studies. Analytically, they range from past policies to current concerns and extend the conventional boundaries of welfare to cover issues such as industrial relations and race.


Welfare State Full Employment Welfare Policy Labour Market Policy Labour Party 
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  1. 2.
    P. Baldwin, ‘The Welfare State for Historians’, Comparative Studies in Society and History, 34 (1992), 695–707CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    P. Baldwin, The Politics of Social Solidarity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), p. 1.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
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    R. Lowe, The Welfare State in Britain since 1945 (Basingstoke: Macmillan, 1998) identifies the broad range of concepts required for analysis and concentrates on ‘classic welfare state’ up to 1975Google Scholar
  5. M. Hill, The Welfare State in Britain (Aldershot: Edward Elgar, 1993) offers a government-by-government approach; N. Timmins, The Five Giants (London: HarperCollins, 1995) is an example of ‘high journalism’ which is particularly enlightening on the NHS and the Thatcher yearsGoogle Scholar
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    In B. Abel-Smith and K. Titmuss, The Philosophy of Welfare (London: Allen & Unwin, 1987), p. 141.Google Scholar
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    R. Titmuss, Essays on ‘the Welfare State’ (London: Allen & Unwin, 1958), ch. 2. The incidence of subsidies, such as food subsidies, is as important as that of taxes.Google Scholar
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    P. Taylor-Gooby, Public Opinion, Ideology and State Welfare (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1985), ch. 2. The slowing down in the rate of economic growth would, in itself, have posed problems for the expansion of welfare expenditure; but the under-employment of the country’s productive capacity accentuated the problem.Google Scholar
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    R. Lowe, ‘The Replanning of the Welfare State, 1957–64’ in M. Francis and I. Zweiniger—Bargielowska, The Conservatives and British Society, 1880–1900 (Cardiff: University of Wales Press, 1996), p. 255–73. For a guide to official records in this period, see P. Bridgen and R. Lowe, Welfare Policy under the Conservatives, 1951–64 (London: PRO Publications, 1998).Google Scholar
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    E. Wilson, Women and the Welfare State, (London: Tavistock, 1977).Google Scholar
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    G. Esping-Andersen, The Three Worlds of Welfare Capitalism (Cambridge: Polity, 1990)Google Scholar
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    P. Johnson, ‘The Welfare State’ in R. Floud and D. McCloskey, The Economic History of Britain since 1700 (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1994), vol. 3, p. 284–317.Google Scholar

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© Rodney Lowe 1999

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  • Rodney Lowe

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