Today, it is impossible to separate discussion of poverty from the priorities of state welfare. A hundred years ago, most working class households avoided or coped with poverty without recourse to the state. The Poor Law after 1834 offered little more than a "safety net" for the poorest, and much welfare was organised through charitable societies, self-help institutions and mutual aid networks. Rather than look for the origins of modern provision, the author casts light on the practices, ideology and outcomes of nineteenth-century welfare.
ALAN KIDD is Reader in History at Manchester Metropolitan University. His previous publications include Manchester, The Making of the British Middle Class and Gender, Civic Culture and Consumerism.