This book examines social policy in the Edwardian age in relation to poverty and unemployment - issues which remain at the heart of our social concerns. These are presented through the conflict of ideas between two husband-and-wife teams of social theorists: the fabian socialists, Sidney and Beatrice Webb, and the spokesmen of the Charity Organization Society, the philosopher Bernard Bosanquet and his wife Helen. Their polemics, which began in the early 1890s,
culminated at the lengthy inquiries of the Royal Commission on the Poor Laws of 1905-1909, in which Beatrice Webb played a major part and Helen Bosanquet a so-far unrecognized but equally important role on the other side. Their argument is pursued at many levels, from that of practical social work to
philosophical speculation.Based on official sources, personal papers, and primary published material, the book gives a full account of a splendid Edwardian tournament, and challenges some earlier historical commentaries upon it.
'as a serious study of the leading strands in reforming ideas and their erlationship with the poor law and other aspects of social policy in the later Victorian and Edwardian periods it is a valuable contribution'
'A M McBriar has made a brilliant choice of subject ... an admirably lucid and dispassionate account.'
Shirley Robin Letwin, The Sunday Telegraph
'Fair mindedness and the imaginative recreation of lost attitudes are A.M.McBriar's hallmark. Scholarly, elegantly arranged and informed by a quiet, rather dry humour, his new book at last puts into context a Royal Commission which which conducted a classic debate on the causes and cure of poverty between 1905 and 1909.'
The London Review of Books
'As an exposition of ideas on social policy ... and as a study of an important instrument of social investigation this book has a great deal of interest to offer.'
E.P. Hennock, University of Liverpool. Social History of Medicine