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Unemployment and the state in Britain: The means test and protest in 1930s South Wales and North-East England

Ward, Stephanie 2013. Unemployment and the state in Britain: The means test and protest in 1930s South Wales and North-East England. Manchester: Manchester University Press.

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Unemployment and the State in the Depression makes an important and original contribution to our understanding of the 1930s in Britain, a period that continues to intrigue historians and capture the public imagination. The book focuses upon the impact of the coalition National Government’s unemployment policy, and on the use of a highly controversial household means test for the long-term unemployed in particular. If the depression of the 1930s cast its shadow over the history of interwar Britain, then it was the use of the means test that dominated public and private debates about it. It was the most debated piece of domestic legislation and opposition to the measure came from across the political spectrum; it led to a scale of opposition in the streets that some argued had not been seen since the days of Chartism. Such was its legacy, the alleged worst effects of the means test even influenced post-Second World War politics. Whilst no serious study of the depression would fail to mention the significance of the measure, to date, there is no single detailed study of the administration, effects and response to the means test. The purpose of this book is to redress this balance and further understandings of a measure which was central to the social and political history of Britain in this era. The book examines the construction of the image of the means test and its effects, including claims of suicide, furthering understanding of relationships within the family, the masculinity of the unemployed and how the out of work were perceived by the press and government. It focuses in particular upon protest movements, furthering understandings of the importance of place and political culture through a comparative case study of south Wales and the north-east of England.

Item Type: Book
Book Type: Authored Book
Date Type: Publication
Status: Published
Schools: History, Archaeology and Religion
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Publisher: Manchester University Press
ISBN: 9780719086809
Last Modified: 13 Oct 2021 11:16

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