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State social work and social citizenship in Britain: From clientelism to consumerism

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  • Hn Social History And Conditions. Social Problems. Social Reform
  • Political Science


Marshall's formulation of 'social citizenship' embodied a depoliticized understanding of what was seen as a given, progressive and irreversible stage of societal development, which encompassed the provision of state social work. A consequence of this approach was the failure to situate social citizenship in a specific political and policy context; in Marshall's case, the post-war British social democratic welfare state. Within this, a more central position was secured for state social work, through its unification and incorporation into bureau-professional regimes which were made responsible for responding to citizens' social needs as clients of the state. The New Right's attack on the institutionalization of social citizenship in bureau-professional regimes included the accusation that state social work had infringed service users' rights and produced a passive, dependent clientele. The New Right's alternative formulation of the 'consumer-citizen' led to the development of a new political consensus on social citizenship. Beginning from an acceptance of this consensus, procedural rights are seen as one way of extending social citizenship in state social work and as a precursor to the posssibility of wider participation by service users in its provision.

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