Paper $45.95 ISBN: 9781447305842 Published September 2012 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $111.00 ISBN: 9781847427069 Published April 2010 For sale in North and South America only

Major Thinkers in Welfare

Contemporary Issues in Historical Perspective

Vic George

Major Thinkers in Welfare

Vic George

Distributed for Policy Press at the University of Bristol

274 pages | © 2012
Paper $45.95 ISBN: 9781447305842 Published September 2012 For sale in North and South America only
Cloth $111.00 ISBN: 9781847427069 Published April 2010 For sale in North and South America only
With unprecedented breadth, Major Thinkers in Welfare examines a host of views and theories on a range of welfare issues—including wealth, poverty, inequality, slavery, gender, family, education, crime, and the role of governments and markets in society—from ancient Greece to the end of the nineteenth century. Contextualizing the theorists with a look at their social values and perceptions of human nature, it offers one of the most complete histories of the thought of social welfare and highlights important historical complexities for some of the most urgent contemporary problems.


1. Classical Athens: Plato and Aristotle
The Athenian society
Plato's communitarianism: the state is sovereign
Aristotle's equity and the middle way
Origins of society
Classes in society
The position of women
Private property
The abolition of the family
Poverty policies
2. The Graeco-Roman world: Epicurus, Zeno, Cicero, Seneca and Aurelius
Epicurus (341–271 BC)
Stoicism: Zeno (336–263 BC), Cicero (160–43 BC), Seneca (4 BC–5 AD) and Aurelius (121–80 AD)
Society and government
The virtuous Stoic individual
Nature and civil law
The position of women
Wealth and poverty
Old age
3. Early Christianity: St Augustine, St Francis and St Thomas Aquinas
The New Testament and human welfare
    The Christian value system
    The position of women
    Marriage and divorce
    Wealth and poverty
St Augustine (354–430)
St Francis of Assisi (1182–1226)
    Religious sects
    The Franciscan friars
    Four profiles of poverty
St Thomas Aquinas (1225–74)
    Government and welfare
    Private versus public property
    Poverty and a taxonomy of needs
    The position of women
4. The Renaissance: Desiderius Erasmus and Thomas More; The Reformation: Martin Luther and Jean Calvin
Desiderius Erasmus (1467–1536)
Thomas More (1478–1535)
A critique of 16th-century capitalist society
    The capitalist state
    Crime in 16th-century England
    Poverty in 16th-century England
    Private property
Life in Utopia
    A socialist welfare state
    Representative government
    Marriage, family and divorce
An assessment of Utopia
Martin Luther (1483–1545)
    Luther's religious values: faith and obedience
    Poverty relief
    Women, marriage and divorce
    Economic issues
Jean Calvin (1509–64)
    Calvinism and capitalism
5. Absolutism: Thomas Hobbes; Liberalism: John Locke
Thomas Hobbes (1588–1679)
    Human nature and absolutism
    Crime and punishment
    Wealth and poverty
    Women in society
John Locke (1632–1704)
    Human nature and government by consent
    Private property
    Poverty: causes and remedies
    The position of women
    Education and childhood
6. Early feminism: Mary Astell, Sophia and Mary Wollstonecraft
Mary Astell (1668–1731)
Sophia, an anonymous author
Mary Wollstonecraft (1759–97)
    Private property and society
    Wealth and poverty
    Women's emancipation
    Marriage and family
    Parent-child relationships
    Education, women's emancipation and social progress
7. A welfare society: Jean-Jacques Rousseau
Human nature
Equality and liberty
From compassion to vanity
Private property and poverty
Taxation and government overload
The role of women in society
    Ideal education methods
    National education system
Rousseau's ideal society
    The goodness of human nature
    The general will
    Direct citizen participation
    The small nation state
Theory and practice
8. The market, laissez-faire and welfare: Adam Smith
Human nature
The division of labour
Laissez-faire and the invisible hand of the market
Wealth and wages
The family
The role of government
    Public works and public institutions
Principles of public administration
The chequered career of laissez-faire
9. Democracy and welfare: Thomas Paine
Human Nature
Society and Government
Hereditary monarchy versus elective democracy
Trade, private property and the common good
The structure and culture of poverty
A universal welfare state
Religion and welfare
10. Classical Marxism and welfare: Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
Human nature and human needs
The materialist conception of history
The critique of capitalism
    Poverty and the immiseration of the working class
    Reform or revolution
The position of women in society
A communist welfare state
    Communist society
    Government expenditure
11. Positive freedom and state welfare: T. H. Green
Positive freedom
The common good
The interventionist state
Policies at work
Wealth and poverty
Gender equality
Liberal socialism
Democratic socialism


Review Quotes
Robert Pinker, London School of Economics & Political Science

“In this scholarly and highly readable book, Vic George traces the history of welfare thought back to the time of Plato and Aristotle. In doing so, he adds a new dimension to contemporary debates about the ends and means of social policy and our perceptions of its intellectual lineage.”

For more information, or to order this book, please visit
Google preview here

Chicago Manual of Style

RSS Feed

RSS feed of the latest books from Policy Press at the University of Bristol. RSS Feed