By Lydia Morris
First released in 2002. Routledge is an imprint of Taylor & Francis, an informa corporation.
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The pattern of supplementary claims for NA, together with the decision that insurance benefit should be of limited duration, exposed many unemployed claimants to a means test. The ideal of social citizenship guaranteed by state welfare provisions is necessarily damaged by this development, first because it introduces differences of status within the welfare system, and secondly because it imposes conditions other than the lack of employment on the receipt of benefit. Where benefit is as of right by virtue of contributions the possibility of social stigma is reduced, but the more conditions which are attached to a claim the more damage is done to the self-esteem and public status of the claimant.
Such full membership of a community, he argued, was not inconsistent with the inequalities of social class, provided equality of citizenship was recognised. He is here implicitly distinguishing between a class position and a status. The Beveridge plan was arguably an attempt to guarantee such a status by virtue of the right to benefit, the assurance of subsistence, and the respect of individual autonomy. Marshall, ‘The basic human equality of membership… [had] been enriched with new substance and invested with a formidable array of rights….
56). But the benefit itself may operate as an instrument of social stratification, argues Marshall. The example he gives is the education system, which provides a service according to class position, and by virtue of the differential quality of the service, class positions are reproduced. These arguments have been expressed more fully with reference to the whole welfare system by Titmus (1958), and later developed by Sinfield (1978). In the social insurance and public assistance of the 1940s, however, it may be argued that despite its promise the nature of the provision may have offset some material inequality yet created differences of status which are still with us.