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.

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

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.

Institutions and the challenges of refugee governance
Dalia Abdelhady

specifically the principle of ‘The People’s Home’ (folkhemmet, see e.g. Lawler, 2003). This vision of universal welfare, coined by Social Democrat leader Per Albin Hansson in 1927, has – at least from the early 1930s until the late 1980s – been considered sacred in Swedish public culture. Additionally, the post-shame discourse is exemplified in providing space for politicians from the ultranationalist and extreme rightist Sweden Democrats (SD) to present their views on refugee policies and thus normalising the role played by such a party in Swedish political discourse. At

in Refugees and the violence of welfare bureaucracies in Northern Europe
Open Access (free)
Alannah Tomkins
Steven King

(where the Webbs would have found fault) with the flexibility of local responses to poverty and the energy with which the urge to reform both the law and the poor was taken up.17 Perhaps the most outspoken, ambitious exponent of the view that the old poor law provided an effective welfare safety net, Peter Solar, argues that parishes manipulated their implementation of the poor laws in accordance with local perceptions of labour supply and demand.18 He considers that this tailoring of the poor law to labour needs produced a near-universal welfare system which supported

in The poor in England 1700–1850