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Towards a welfare society: a critical re-appraisal of L.T. Hobhouse's new liberalism and sociology

Terao, Hanno 2013. Towards a welfare society: a critical re-appraisal of L.T. Hobhouse's new liberalism and sociology. PhD Thesis, Cardiff University.
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Although L.T. Hobhouse (1864-1929) has long been considered one of the leading political thinkers of the British new liberalism, the whole range of his thought has not been given as much attention as it deserves. Through a thorough analysis of Hobhouse’s academically written works, the thesis demonstrates that he made a considerable contribution to the political thought of the new liberalism through his clear and articulate vision of a liberal welfare society. This vision was built upon a strikingly consistent system of political, economic, sociological, and philosophical arguments. The thesis argues these claims from three perspectives. First, while sharing with other new liberals a focus on the cultivation of individual morality as the primary purpose of social reform, Hobhouse further associated the idea with a notably pluralist perspective, focusing on the activities of intermediate organizations as well as the state. Secondly, his ethics of harmony offered a distinctively new liberal criterion on the development of morality and wealth distribution, whilst showing a notable intellectual affinity with T.H. Green’s theory of rights. In fact, despite his incessant critique of philosophical idealism, Hobhouse’s views were what could properly be called those of an ‘idealist liberal’ in the realms of ethics and political philosophy. Finally, on the basis of the integration of his new liberal ethics, idealist-inclined realist metaphysics and neo-Spencerian evolutionary sociology, Hobhouse labelled the core principle of a liberal welfare society ‘citizenship’ in his sociology, identifying its partial realization in modern society. Welfare society was envisioned as a global community premised on the mutual recognition of moral rights and duties. This vision was later in part succeeded by T.H. Marshall’s sociological theory of citizenship, but its scope and philosophical depth was a specific product of Hobhouse’s systematic thought. In summary the thesis is an attempt to show the originality and comprehensiveness of Hobhouse's welfare thought and thus to restore his reputation as a serious thinker.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Status: Unpublished
Schools: Department of Politics and International Relations (POLIR)
Subjects: J Political Science > JC Political theory
Date of First Compliant Deposit: 30 March 2016
Last Modified: 19 Mar 2016 23:16

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