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Title: Problem families and the welfare state in post-war British literature (1945-75)
Author: Osborne, James Bennett
ISNI:       0000 0004 5363 8761
Awarding Body: University of Southampton
Current Institution: University of Southampton
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis adopts an interdisciplinary approach to consider how so-called ‘problem families’ were conceptualised by the welfare state in post war Britain through an examination of fiction and non-fiction texts. The 1945-75 period has been recognised as the era of the ‘classic welfare state’, during which successive governments made interventions in the British economy to maintain full employment. Preventing wide-scale unemployment was key to classic welfare state ideology, which relied the assumption that workers would make contributions which were equal in value to the benefits they received. Problem families were perceived as either unable or unwilling to participate in this reciprocal relationship due to their failure to achieve or aspire to ‘normal’ levels of productivity and financial independence. In order to gain insight into the manner in which these families were conceptualised by the welfare state, this thesis focuses upon three key areas: psychiatry, housing and family planning. It also draws upon theoretical perspectives offered by Michel Foucault and Zygmunt Bauman to consider how the conceptualisations from each of these served the purposes of state governance and the enforcement of social norms through biopolitical means. Investigating the manner in which the term ‘problem family’ was deployed in the post-war period provides insight into how the welfare state legitimised its attempts to change behaviours closely associated with the poorest members of British society. By shaping policy to encourage the reform of problem family behaviour through biopolitical means, the post-war welfare state played an important governance role by ensuring that as many people as possible existed in a reciprocal relationship with the state.
Supervisor: Hanson, Sheila Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HQ The family. Marriage. Woman ; HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare ; PR English literature