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Remembering and Rethinking the Social Divisions of Welfare: 50 Years On

  • KIRK MANN (a1)

This article revisits Titmuss's essay on the Social Divisions of Welfare (SDW) and reflects on its continuing relevance. Titmuss first presented the SDW in an Eleanor Rathbone Memorial lecture at Birmingham University in 1955, but it is best known from his Essays on the Welfare State published in 1958. Titmuss challenged the stereotype of ‘welfare’ as simply public welfare dependency and illustrated the different elements of the SDW. Some limitations of Titmuss's approach are identified, notably in relation to how he saw dependency arising, and revisions offered. The article provides a number of examples from the UK but also highlights some significant parallels with the SDW in the USA and Australia, the so-called ‘liberal welfare regimes’ (Esping-Andersen, 1990). Finally, it is claimed that 50 years on we need to be reminded of the insights and analytical potential of Titmuss's essay.

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Journal of Social Policy
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