Friday, March 29, 2019
Shifting Attitudes Toward The Poor In Victorian England History Essay
Shifting Attitudes Toward The Poor In victorian England narrative EssayShifting Attitudes toward the Poor in prissy England. The 1880s let usually been described in terms of a rediscovery of leanness and a dec stemma of individualism in the public conscience of Victorian England scorn much than a century of unparalleled commercial progress. The publication of heat content Georges Progress and Poverty in 1881 opened a period characterised by books and surveys which focused public attention on the problems of poverty and squalor by providing compelling numerical justification for more collectivist and heartyist organisation activity policies. Even Gladstone openly ac comeledged in his 1864 budget pedagogy that the astonishing development of modern commerce under free interchange was insufficient to remove an enormous mass of paupers who were struggling troopsfully nevertheless with difficulty to avoid pauperdom. passim the 1880s, it was clear even to the close unswerv ing upholder of the individualist ethic that non everyone was able to practise the virtues of self- encourage or to benefit from them. Through a combination of what Derek Fraser identifies as podsnappery (I dont indispensability to know close it) and the seemingly infinite capacity of the economy to generate wealth, the actual facts of continuing poverty were obscured from a large part of Victorian high companionship until the investigations and statistical proofs from well-disposed reformers untold(prenominal) as Charles stand and Seebohm Rowntree garnered gradual borrowing for the notion that poverty was the consequence of complex scotch and social factors beyond the control of the individuals. This shift in popular attitude marked the locate word of the modern welfare state in Britain that would take shape throughout the twentieth century under the childbed party. In this paper, I want to argue that the change in attitudes from the idea of pauperization as social inefficiency that could be dealt with privately to poverty as an issue of physical inefficiency that could be solved publicly was a direct lead of the failure of self-help to take over the charter of the souring class and the poverty studies spawned in the wake of such(prenominal) a realization by social reformers in the late Victorian and early Edwardian periods.A social philosophy emerged in the antecedent of the nineteenth century in response to the explosive economic and social changes brought about by the Industrial Revolution. Between 1820 and 1870, English economic and semipolitical thought was overshadowed by the Ricardian economic organization the Malthusian population scheme and Adam Smiths Wealth of Nations (1776).6A laissez-faire economic policy unbent that called for free trade and free economic forces to impart inwardly a free market with free competition. The individual was to be allowed to fulfill his true potential unrestricted by the trammels of un nec essity restrictions and regulations which were infringements on his liberty.7The nature of deportment in human society was closely related to the economic component performed, and so ideas about the structure and function of society emerged as a social adjunct of economic theory. Laissez-faire society emphasised individualism, utilitarianism, and self-interest. By mid century, the virtues of the capitalist middle class that had produced the calm and prosperity of the secondment quarter of the nineteenth century were elevated into a honourable cypher for all that became almost a religion.8The social philosophy of Victorianism crystallised into quartet great tenets work, thrift, respectability, and above all self-help.9Self-help became the supreme virtue10that underpinned Victorian society. The earny of England by the time of the Great Exhibition in 1851 was credited with Smiths rarified of individuals pursuing their self-interests. The open, competitive society with its enor mous opportunities enabled all to rise by their own talents, unaided by government agency. Man, in the Victorian era, was master of his own fate and could achieve anything given initiative and industry. Samuel Smiles defined self-help in his book of the same title published in 1859 as the root of all genuine growth in the individual11because it encouraged individuals to work to achieve their full potentials since whatever is done for men to a trustworthy extent takes away the stimulus and necessity of doing for themselves and where men are subjected to over-guidance the fateful tendency is to render them comparatively helpless.12Failure to govern oneself appropriately from within in order to cleanse ones situation was a result not of external factors but of internal deficiencies such as lesson ignorance, selfishness, and vice.13Although the self-help political theory was essentially of middle-class origin and application, its impact was society-wide and spread upwards toward th e set deck aristocracy as well as downward to the property-less and workss class.14Throughout the nineteenth century, self-help became viewed as the best help for the unfortunate and institutions of self-help were developed to helper the working class to educate and ameliorate the lives of the working class.Perhaps the most important of the philanthropic organizations to lift the masses from the depths of despair15was the Charity judicature Society (C.O.S.) founded in capital of the United Kingdom in 1869 where poverty was most severe. excursus from promoting and helping the working classes realize self-help, Victorian charity was also point by a genuine and persistent veneration of social variation that benefactors hoped siphoning16off rough of their wealth avoid. The C.O.S. was a federation of district communities that aimed to take on charitable effort more effectively in tackling the perceived moral causes of social distress17and impose upon the life of the short(p ) a system of sanctions and rewards which would convince them that there could be no escape from lifes miseries except by thrift, regularity, and hard work.18The society was a pioneer in developing professional person social work but its social philosophy was rigorously handed-down and it became one of the staunchest defenders of the self-help individualist ethic.19To C. S. Loch, General Secretary of the C.O.S., charity had nothing to do with poverty but social inefficiency.20The problem was pauperism the failure of a man to sustain himself and his dependants a situation for the pauper was guilty of moral failure, self-indulgence, and complacency because he was ultimately responsible for creating his own circumstances. The solution and mandate of the C.O.S. in the words of Bernard Bosanquet, the main intellectual champion of the charity organisation movement was to wind up the moral potential in all people21and reform the character of the poor by helping individuals understan d their own in-person strengths in overcoming wayward circumstances.Despite the work of organizations such as the C.O.S. in the 1880s, there was an increase realisation that the environment, social and physical, p puzzleed a part in determine mens lives that was beyond their control. The C.O.S. acknowledged that men might need charitable help but were convinced that the amount of poverty was limited and could be handled privately without the need for legislation. The accumulated statistical evidence did not yet represent to disprove the societys contention and it was in this ignorance that Charles Booth began his work. Booth, a Liverpool merchant, was concerned about the sensational reporting of individual cases of hardship and wished to ascertain the validity pot the cases through a scientific inquiry.22He later said, The lives of the poor lay hidden behind a curtain on which were painted odious pictures starving children, suffering women giants of disease and despair. Did the se pictures truly represent what lay behind, or did they bear a relation similar to the booth at some county fair?23To locate the reality of poverty and distinguish between the worked up superstructure and the statistical basis, Booth launched two pilot studies in 1886 in tugboat Hamlets, and again in 1887 in East London and Hackney utilize the latest statistical and quantitative techniques. Over the course of career, he broaden his research over all of London and published his results in cardinal volumes between 1889 and 1903 under the title Life and Labour of the People of London. Booth found that almost one- terzetto of the population in London lived at or below the poverty line of 18 to 21 shillings per workweek for a moderate family.24About 1.2 million Britons lived above the poverty line and were at all times more or less in want.25For contemporaries, Booths conclusion that 30 percent of Londons population lived in poverty affirm that the problem was far beyond the scope of private charitable benef meet26and provided the statistical incentive needed for practical solutions.Advancements in parliamentary nation in late Victorian England gave the population political influence. Gradual gush of the franchise meant that numbers were beginning to count, and this fact was not lost on politicians who realised the need to placate voters. Gareth Stedman Jones summarizes the increased attention paid to the fear of the chronically poor that began to emerge in the 1880s as a neglected and exploited class that might retaliate and contaminate civilise London.27The anxiety which prompted members of the respectable working and middle classes to agitate for government action resulted in a mass of detailed legislation28which dealt with social problems deal public health, education, working conditions, and housing. Socialism, in its broadest sense, as a willingness to consider with party favour interventionist policies intended to benefit the masses29 reign legis lation passed after 1880. socialistic organisations, such as the Fabian Society, the Social Democratic Federation, and the Independent Labour Party, exerted tremendous influence on a wide range of national political questions and swelled in popularity, eventually producing a Labour government in the beginning of the twentieth century.The British government undertook a markedly more serious role in the public dispensation of aid to the poor beginning in 1886 with the Chamberlain Circular. Following the alarming riots by unemployed London workers on February 8, 1886, Joseph Chamberlain, President of the Local Government Board in Gladstones third Liberal ministry, issued a circular in March to authorise the recording for municipal public works to relieve unemployment. After thorough investigations into the plight of the working classes, the Local Government Board, according to Chamberlain, found evidence of much and increasing privation30making the creation of public works necessary to prevent large numbers of persons from being reduced to superior straits.31Aside from authorizing the work projects, Chamberlain takes pains to prevent those who truly needed assistance from experiencing the stigma of pauperism32and to make it as easy as possible for those who do not ordinarily seek poor law relief33to receive help. Chamberlain do it clear for municipal governments to respect the spirit of independence34of the working classes and not to add to their already exceptional distress.35Chamberlain painstakingly explained to the municipal authorities that the working class were not lazy, but simply unfortunate because of severe defy problems and cyclical economic downturns. He went so far as to assess the habitual practice of the working class to make great personal sacrifices36than receive government alms. The circular significantly reveals the shifting attitudes in Victorian Britain towards redefining poverty as a result of personal deficiencies to external facto rs beyond ones control. As a result of revelations make by Booth and a realization that reliance on the notion of self-help is insufficient, Chamberlain cautions authorities from looking down on the poor as not working hard to improve their own situations. Implicit in the circular is an admission that self-help and the charity organizations do failed and the municipal governments must treat the working classes as deserving the greatest sympathy and respect37because they would help themselves if they could had formidable external factors not made it imperative for the government to step in to alleviate the dilemma of the working classes. The Chamberlain Circular established the principle that unemployment was in the last resort the responsibility of the whole society and was inappropriately dealt with via the Poor Law.38The spirit of the Chamberlain Circular culminated in the passage of the Unemployed Workmens Act in 1905 that acknowledged that poverty had economic causes and was n ot necessarily the result of moral degeneracy.At the turn of the century, Seebohm Rowntree, divine by Booth, conducted a survey of York that revealed almost one-third of the population of York lived in poverty.39Rowntrees picture of poverty was near enough to Booths to be mutually reinforcing and to signify that approaching a third of the urban population of the whole estate was living in poverty.40Following in the footsteps of Booth and Rowntree, surveys were conducted throughout Britain and added to the rediscovery of poverty41that produced social programs such as the Old-Age Pension Act (1908) and the National damages Act (1911), which paved the foundation for the modern welfare state in Britain in 1946.42Late Victorian England was a period of rapid alteration and change. Before 1880, self-help was the virtue that supported Victorian social philosophy. Derived from a corporate trust in human nature and its possibilities, Victorian society demanded self-reliance because it d eemed that at the root of a persons circumstances laid an almost limitless moral potential which could be aroused to overcome the worst environmental adversity. destitution was seen as a moral failure and paupers as social incompetent and morally degenerate people. Leading philanthropic organisations like the C.O.S. held poverty to be the result of self-indulgence and complacency and tried to use charity as a means to create the power of self-help in the poor. Beginning in the 1880s, the reality of the growth of abject poverty in the midst of deal shocked Victorian society. A generation of self-help had not produced a disclose life, and work by men like and Rowntree forcibly made society aware of the penury within it. The notion that poverty could be the result of complex economic and social factors beyond the individuals control became accepted, and with the expansion of the franchise, social welfare became a fundamental response to democratic demand. As working class conscious ness developed and as institutions of working class organisations, such as trade unions, formulated labour demands it became increasingly important for governments to respond. The more the poor acquired votes in the wake of suffrage reform, the more domestic issues dominated the political arena. As democracy broadened, so, too, did the working class aspirations for social betterment.