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Cultural histories of the National Health Service in Britain
Editors: and

The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain in 1948. It replaced a patchy system of charity and local providers, and made healthcare free at the point of use. Over the subsequent decades, the NHS was vested with cultural meaning, and even love. By 1992, the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson declared that the service was ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’. Yet in 2016, a physician publishing in the British Medical Journal asked whether the service was, in fact, a ‘national religion or national football’, referring to the complex politics of healthcare. Placards, posters, and prescriptions radically illuminates the multiple meanings of the NHS, in public life and culture, over its seventy years of life. The book charts how this institution has been ignored, worshipped, challenged, and seen as under threat throughout its history. It analyses changing cultural representations and patterns of public behaviour that have emerged, and the politics and everyday life of health. By looking at the NHS through the lenses of labour, activism, consumerism, space, and representation, this collection showcases the depth and potential of cultural history. This approach can explain how and why the NHS has become the defining institution of contemporary Britain.

Henrik Lauridsen Lolle

the core universal (or social democratic ) welfare states in Esping-Andersen’s ( 1990 ) typology. Although there has been much debate of welfare state retrenchment, Denmark can still be characterised as a universal welfare state with a high degree of economic equality (Béland et al., 2014 ; van Kersbergen et al., 2014 ). Especially since the municipality reform in 1970

in Rural quality of life
From compassion to coercion

This book describes how human rights have given rise to a vision of benevolent governance that, if fully realised, would be antithetical to individual freedom.

It shows that contemporary human rights practice is increasingly managerial in nature, interested above all in measuring and improving human rights performance. This has the effect of shifting the focus of human rights from the individual rights-holder to the activities of the duty-bearer: the state, international organisation, or business. The result is a preoccupation with achieving measured improvements within abstract groups such as the population or ‘stakeholders’, with the individual rights-holder being relevant only insofar as he or she is a datapoint in a larger grouping. The book then analyses this trend and its consequences. It describes human rights’ evolution into a grand but nebulous project, rooted in compassion, with the overarching aim of improving universal welfare by defining the conditions of human well-being and imposing obligations on the state and other actors to realise them. The ultimate result is the ‘governmentalisation’ of a pastoral form of global human rights governance, in which power is exercised for the general good, moulded by a complex regulatory sphere which shapes the field of action for the individual at every turn.

The conclusion is that it is unsurprising that this alienating discourse has failed to capture the popular imagination – and that if the human rights movement is to succeed it may be necessary for it to do less rather than more.

Kuba Szreder

example of the wider trend of establishing support structures that do not replace universal welfare, but rather aim to strengthen it. Another example is a Precarity Office based in Vienna, established in 2013, a space for precarious workers ‘to get and give informal advice, meet and discuss, hear about our respective struggles and develop them further’ (Precarity Office Vienna 2013 ), that during the migration crisis of 2015–16 engaged in solidarity actions with refugees trying to find shelter in Europe (→ B is for (no) borders ). The ability of

in The ABC of the projectariat
Race and nation in twenty-first-century Britain

Nationalism has reasserted itself today as the political force of our times, remaking European politics wherever one looks. Britain is no exception, and in the midst of Brexit, it has even become a vanguard of nationalism's confident return to the mainstream. Brexit, in the course of generating a historically unique standard of sociopolitical uncertainty and constitutional intrigue, tore apart the two-party compact that had defined the parameters of political contestation for much of twentieth-century Britain. This book offers a wide-ranging picture of the different theoretical accounts relevant to addressing nationalism. It briefly repudiates the increasingly common attempts to read contemporary politics through the lens of populism. The book explores the assertion of 'muscular liberalism' and civic nationalism. It examines more traditional, conservative appeals to racialised notions of blood, territory, purity and tradition as a means of reclaiming the nation. The book also examines how neoliberalism, through its recourse to discourses of meritocracy, entrepreneurial self and individual will, alongside its exaltation of a 'points-system' approach to the ills of immigration, engineers its own unique rendition of the nationalist crisis. There are a number of important themes through which the process of liberal nationalism can be documented - what Arun Kundnani captured, simply and concisely, as the entrenchment of 'values racism'. These include the 'faux-feminist' demonisation of Muslims.

Given the significant similarities and differences between the welfare states of Northern Europe and their reactions to the perceived 'refugee crisis' of 2015, the book focuses primarily on the three main cases of Denmark, Sweden and Germany. Placed in a wider Northern European context – and illustrated by those chapters that also discuss refugee experiences in Norway and the UK – the Danish, Swedish and German cases are the largest case studies of this edited volume. Thus, the book contributes to debates on the governance of non-citizens and the meaning of displacement, mobility and seeking asylum by providing interdisciplinary analyses of a largely overlooked region of the world, with two specific aims. First, we scrutinize the construction of the 2015 crisis as a response to the large influx of refugees, paying particular attention to the disciplinary discourses and bureaucratic structures that are associated with it. Second, we investigate refugees’ encounters with these bureaucratic structures and consider how these encounters shape hopes for building a new life after displacement. This allows us to show that the mobility of specific segments of the world’s population continues to be seen as a threat and a risk that has to be governed and controlled. Focusing on the Northern European context, our volume interrogates emerging policies and discourses as well as the lived experiences of bureaucratization from the perspective of individuals who find themselves the very objects of bureaucracies.

Open Access (free)
Neil McNaughton

is no agreed definition of the term ‘welfare state’, though we can say that the description became widely used in the early years of the twentieth century. We can also make a clear distinction between a situation where the state provides a wide variety of welfare provision and one where there is a systematic arrangement for providing universal welfare through the state. This distinction can be illustrated by referring to health care provision in Britain. Before 1946 health care was either privately supplied, in which case individuals simply paid for their own

in Understanding British and European political issues
Open Access (free)
Their basis and limits
Catriona McKinnon

– courts, a penal system, a police force – they can nevertheless be pressed in the absence of these structures, which are not necessary for the identification of counterpart-obligation holders. But she claims that the same is not true of universal welfare rights to goods and services. Unless and until counterpart-obligations are distributed by institutions, it makes no sense to talk of welfare rights at

in Political concepts
Open Access (free)
What have we learned about rural quality of life and how do we proceed?
Pia Heike Johansen
Anne Tietjen
Evald Bundgård Iversen
Henrik Lolle
, and
Jens Kaae Fisker

small, universal welfare state. He expects only minor differences in subjective well-being between urban and rural areas, and if any significant difference exists, he expects that Denmark will follow the recent trend in the global North more generally, with rural areas in the lead. Lolle uses person-level, register panel data merged with survey data from thirty

in Rural quality of life
Abstract only
Michael Rush

principles, with the American model based primarily on residual welfare ideologies and socio-behavioural perspectives on agency and the Swedish model based on universal welfare ideologies and social constructivism perspectives on the development of social citizenship roles, and entitlements, for fathers. The two regimes of fatherhood model locates the broad church of American psycho-sociological literature on fatherhood within a comparative welfare regime framework of analysis. The two regimes model also focuses on the comparative social policy treatment of fathers. By

in Between two worlds of father politics