Gordon Brown's misplaced Smithian appeal : the eclipse of sympathy in changing British welfare norms
Watson, Matthew. (2009) Gordon Brown's misplaced Smithian appeal : the eclipse of sympathy in changing British welfare norms. Journal of Social Policy, Vol.38 (No.2). pp. 195-210. ISSN 0047-2794
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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/S0047279408002808
Gordon Brown has eagerly lauded his fellow Kirkcaldy citizen, Adam Smith, as his main policy inspiration. This article tests the rigour of such a claim by matching Brown's promotion of Smithian ‘sympathy’ as the centrepiece of his programme for government with the changes introduced by his Treasury to the British welfare model. In the 1970s, Thomas Wilson showed that the traditions of the post-war British welfare state were compatible with a modified form of Smithian sympathy socialised at the level of the state. New Labour has set about reforming the welfare model with respect to both its underlying institutions and the basic subjectivities of its recipients. I show that Brown's substantive preference for an asset-based system of welfare moves those subjectivities away from the ‘relational self’ of Smithian sympathy and towards a much more ‘autonomous self’. Consequently, I conclude that it is stretching Smith's concept of sympathy too far, even in a modified socialised form, to associate it with New Labour's asset-based system of welfare.
|Item Type:||Journal Article|
|Subjects:||H Social Sciences > HC Economic History and Conditions
D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
|Divisions:||Faculty of Social Sciences > Politics and International Studies|
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Smith, Adam, 1723-1790, Brown, Gordon, 1951-, Welfare economics, Great Britain -- Economic policy, Great Britain -- Economic conditions -- 1997-|
|Journal or Publication Title:||Journal of Social Policy|
|Publisher:||Cambridge University Press|
|Official Date:||April 2009|
|Page Range:||pp. 195-210|
|Access rights to Published version:||Open Access|
|Funder:||Economic and Social Research Council (Great Britain) (ESRC)|
|Grant number:||RES-000–22-2198 (ESRC)|
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