The welfare state is a pervasive and controversial aspect of contemporary society. Samuel Mencher provides a historical and philosophical background on the growth of welfare policy through its sources, concepts, and specific programs. He covers a period from the English Poor Law of the sixteenth century through contemporary times-viewing changing attitudes toward poverty, new concepts on the nature of man and the influence of scientific thought-and also discusses mercantilism, laissez-faire, utilitarianism, liberalism, socialism, romanticism, social Darwinism, and modern capitalism as major influences on the growth of economic security policy.
Eminently readable, it offers one of the most comprehensive studies of the evolution of welfare policy currently available. Its scope ranges from sixteenth-century England, poverty in the age of laissez-faire, to nineteenth-century poor law 'reforms.' . . . Mencher's incisive review of liberalism, socialism, romanticism, and Social Darwinism, as well as other interpretations of social policy, offers an essential backdrop for understanding the evolution of measures dealing with the poor.
The first comprehensive intellectual history of the growth of welfare policy in England and America from the 16th century, when the foundation was laid for modern economic security policies, to [the 1960s]. A major contribution, it is required reading for anyone interested in past, or present, welfare policy.
Demonstrates the author's amazing range of knowledge and constitutes a sort of virtuoso performance. Some parts, especially with careful rereading, reveal a great deal about British and American thinking on a topic quite as vital today as at the time of the Elizabethan Poor Law or the Act of 1834.