2) Assess Richard Titmuss' contribution to social policy analysis.
3) Assess Peter Townsend's contribution to the concept and measurement of poverty.
Thomas Humphrey Marshall, known popularly as T.H. Marshall, the British sociologist, was famous for his collection of essays on political and social issues. His collection Citizenship and Social Class was one of his seminal works that talked about ‘social citizenship’ (Marshall 1950). The theory of social citizenship states that states have responsibilities towards its citizens mostly in the social domain. Marshall viewed citizenship as a status conferred upon the full members of any community. Those possessing this status also enjoy the rights and responsibilities that come along with it. Marshall then divided citizenship into civil, political and social.
The aim of this essay is to discuss Marshall’s social citizenship theory and analyze its relevance in the contemporary world. In doing so, the essay will first elaborately explain the social citizenship theory. Then, it will focus on the views of other political theorists and sociologists regarding citizenship. Further, the essay will shed light on the criticism of the theory. The essay aims mainly to highlight that the social citizenship theory proposed by Marshall is relevant even today.
In 1949, Citizenship and Social Class, a collection of lectures by T.H. Marshall that gave to the world, the ‘social citizenship theory’. According to Marshall, responsibilities of the state start from “granting the right to a modicum of economic welfare and security to the right to share to the full in the social heritage”. Marshall divided modern citizenship into three sections that included civil rights, political rights and social rights. Previously, communities did not include these rights explicitly and these entwined with each other. In addition, these were bound within the local face-to-face communities.
The social citizenship, according to Marshall emerged in the 20th century from England. He puts forth three prime factors that resulted in the evolution of the social citizenship. These included the reduction of the income gap, the vast expansion of the area of common experience and culture and magnification of citizenship and further rights granted to citizens. It resulted from a developed social policy as fused in a welfare state.
Marshall claimed that it is rational to suppose that the influence of citizenship on social class must take the shape of a disagreement between contrasting principles. He believed that citizenship rights were necessary to maintain the harmonious inequality amongst the subjects in a capitalist society. The social citizenship rights propagated by Marshall are now most commonly known as the welfare state. The welfare state is a state where the governments look after the overall welfare of its citizens. Social citizenship rights give way to the abolishment of inequalities created by market economies without terminating the markets.
Many have criticized the social citizenship theory as being a theory only for the white citizens. Revi (2014) notices that Marshall’s social citizenship theory “has come under attack for undermining the civil liberties, or falling short of offering real equality to marginalized groups”. Many scholars have even found problems with the definition of social citizenship presented by Marshall. According to Powell (2002), the sociologists’ work lacks the rigor that was needed to make the theory strong enough. The author claims that his theory might be criticized for failing “to specify the level, form and content of social rights” (Powell 2002). After Marshall, many sociologists and political theorists have attempted to modify the social citizenship theory. (Dean 2014) recommended that clearly defined rights and outcomes, renegotiations, obligations, responsibilities of citizenship could make up for a better social citizenship.
The theory of social citizenship has been regarded as the view that resembles the democratic socialist view. As Lister (2005) notes, there are similarities between the egalitarian liberalism of Marshall and social democracy. Marshall was able to identify the ‘class struggle’, which also helped him formulate the theory. He believed that the citizens would come out of this struggle and look forward to enhance their lives and the lives of other fellow citizens thus encouraging social equality. Neoliberalists have criticized and challenged the theory as well. As Revi (2014) states, the neoliberalists have rejected the theory stating that the state welfare propagated by Marshall largely ignores self-reliance. In addition, the contemporary researchers of citizenship and identity have also criticized the theory. According to the researchers, the theory of social citizenship did not include the rights of women, indigenous peoples, migrants and other cultural groups.
Richard Titmuss, another pioneering social researcher, has also elaborated on the concept of citizenship through his work on social policy and the welfare state. According to Titmuss, social policy cannot mean just one thing as it concerns the entire state and its subjects. He states that social policies are not always directed towards the benefit of the citizens as has been seen in countries like South Africa, Latin America and so on. He argues that social policies implemented by governments are not to be confused with equity and benefit for all because “welfare for some groups may be ‘illfare’ others” (Titmuss 1958, pp. 34-35).
Social citizenship, as Marshall proposed, comes from the consolidation of a welfare state. Cousins (2005, p. 25) presents an elaborate explanation of the welfare state and the way it evolved across eras. The author has focused on power resources, social democracy, role of the middle classes, bringing back employers, as the key elements of welfare state creation. The author states that control over power resources determined the functioning of a society and more so, in determining the structure of welfare state. Social democracy on the other hand, replaced the limitations of power resources approach as it talks about the formation of a social policy that could create a welfare state. More influential was the role of middle classes in the social democratic process leading to the formation of a welfare state because “the concerns of particular social groups did determine social policy in an immediate sense” (Cousins 2005, p. 25). Even the role of employers has been emphasized as playing an important role in the development of the welfare state. Marshall’s social citizenship theory, as established earlier, also comes from the concept of the welfare state. Considering the elements that are needed to establish a comprehensive welfare state, as discussed above, Marshall’s social citizenship theory would fall short. The reason is that the theory does not address the factors like distribution of power resources neither does it include the middle classes.
Analyzing Marshall’s theory from this perspective brings out certain limitations it has. According to Marshall, social rights complete citizenship in the industrialized and modernized capitalist democracies. The decades post the two wars then saw the expansion of these rights through the expansion of the welfare state. This is in contrast to what Titmuss states about social rights and the welfare state. Although Marshall made valid claims about the spread of social citizenship, he failed to fathom the extent to which the inequalities would rise despite the realization of social rights. Further, Titmuss was vocal about the redistribution of wealth and services between the rich and the poor and found that it was difficult for governments to balance the wealth and services (Titmuss 1974). The governments had to channelize in correct proportions, the resources to poor people especially the colored poor people without involving shame and stigma. Marshall’s social citizenship does not provide any solutions or answers to these challenges.
Peter Townsend, while focusing on the concept of poverty and the role of social policy, also explains the complexities of social citizenship. Townsend believed that poverty arose due to the colonization of countries and the conflicts post the Second World War (Townsend 1979). During that era, the neo-Keynesian assumptions concerning welfare state made the rich countries assume that levying high taxes, providing full employment and sponsoring social legislation eliminated poverty. Further, after the Second World War, poorer states focused on decolonizing themselves and little attention was directed towards improving their inner standard of living. This led to a huge neglect and the consequent misinterpretation of poverty. In these circumstances, drafting a social policy or providing equal social rights to all citizens did not serve the purpose that Marshall was talking about in his theory. Further, Townsend also observes that the views are divided when it comes to social equality and poverty. While some hold that poverty is “virtually non-existent”, others are of the view that it is widespread (Townsend 1979). Some believe that poverty can easily be eliminated through redistribution whereas others argue against the connection between poverty and inequality. Due to these conflicts of ideas and interpretations of poverty, social policy concept has also suffered. Therefore, to claim that the post-War era saw an extension of social citizenship does not sound valid.
The relevance of Marshall’s theory has been already established in the above sections that social citizenship theory has relevance even today. Revi (2014) observes that with the rise in inequality, social protest and global recession, reassessment of the theory has become the need of the hour. Reappraising the work of Marshall, states the author, could result in the increase in social participation. His contribution to social rights, citizenship and social policy cannot be undermined because these have provided the base on which later theories have evolved. Dean (2014) further provides a post-Marshallian concept of global social citizenship that demonstrates the relevance of his work in the contemporary world. Although the new conception is in contrast to the theory proposed by Marshall, it has been formed based on his theory. In this new theory, the social rights precede the civil and political rights. The author also clarifies the conception of global social citizenship is “not so much a unifying project for the perfection of social citizenship, as a way of reconceptualizing the diverse forms that it may take” (Dean 2014). The author further states that sociality and negotiation are the two aspects of social citizenship when it is considered as a social construction.
Social rights, as per the concept of sociality imply that humans have claims upon each other and that these claims are based on “shared experiences and need” (Marshall and Bottomore 1992). Further, social rights are not pre-ordained like other rights although they originate from the negotiation between human beings and their needs. Sociality and negotiation provide overlapping dimensions that enable individuals to understand the competing constructions of needs and rights. This analysis of sociality and negotiation thus helps in inducing a multilayered conceptualization of social citizenship.
A look into the government policies and promises in today’s world gives enough evidence of Marshall’s social citizenship theory. The governments especially in the Western nations have utilized social inclusion as a key feature. In the countries especially those that were or are under the governance of UK, influence of Marshall’s theory is evident. In Australia for example, the governments have been focusing on preparing strong social policies that could ensure inclusion of everyone (Aph.gov.au 2018). In the UK, the concept found prominence during the late 1990s when the New Labor Government made the social exclusion policy as its focus. A Social Exclusion Unit was also formed in 2006 that looked after the efforts made by the government to tackle social exclusion (Aph.gov.au 2018). Therefore, it is clearly visible that social citizenship had and still has its relevance in the modern world with most governments following his ideas.
It is therefore clearly understood from the analysis above that social citizenship has relevance even in today’s world owing to its focus on economic welfare and social rights. The essay provided an elaborate discussion on the social citizenship theory of T.H. Marshall and found that the theory, along with its flaws and strengths, has created a ground for others to follow. The analysis also included the works of other important social theorists like Peter Townsend and Richard Titmuss who also contributed greatly towards defining social policy and the welfare state. The essay provided a thorough analysis of Marshall’s theory that included the criticism it received from various thinkers. It was found that the theory was criticized for ignoring the rights of many marginalized class that included the migrants, women, indigenous people and others. Apart from that, the theory was also criticized for failing to explain the expulsion of non-White people from consideration.
Aph.gov.au 2018. Social inclusion and social citizenship towards a truly inclusive society – Parliament of Australia. [online] Aph.gov.au. Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp0910/10rp08 [Accessed 26 Nov. 2018].
Cousins, M., 2005. European welfare states: Comparative perspectives. Sage.
Dean, H., 2014. A post-Marshallian conception of global social citizenship. Routledge handbook of global citizenship studies, pp.128-38.
Lister, M., 2005. ‘Marshall-ing’Social and Political Citizenship: Towards a Unified Conception of Citizenship 1. Government and Opposition, 40(4), pp.471-491.
Marshall, T.H. and Bottomore, T.B., 1992. Citizenship and social class (Vol. 2). London: Pluto Press.
Marshall, T.H., 1950. Citizenship and social class (Vol. 11, pp. 28-29). Cambridge.
Powell, M., 2002. The hidden history of social citizenship. Citizenship studies, 6(3), pp.229-244.
Revi, B., 2014. TH Marshall and his critics: reappraising ‘social citizenship’in the twenty-first century. Citizenship Studies, 18(3-4), pp.452-464.
Titmuss, R.M., 1958. The social division of welfare: some reflections on the search for equity. Essays on the welfare state, pp.34-55.
Titmuss, R.M., 1974. Social policy (pp. 1-2). London: Allen & Unwin.
Townsend, P., 1979. Poverty in the United Kingdom: a survey of household resources and standards of living. Univ of California Press.
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