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Citizenship in Britain and Europe: some missing links in T.H. Marshall's theory of rights


  • Harris, Jose


T.H. Marshall's reputation as an historian, social theorist, and practical interpreter of ideas about citizenship and welfare rights has probably never been higher than at the present time. Whether or not T. H. Marshall was 'right' or 'wrong' in his analysis of the questions raised in Citizenship and Social Class (1949), he has come to be seen as a key figure in sparking-off and mediating far-reaching new approaches to ideas about social welfare policy, citizenship laws, and fundamental social rights. Full discussion of Marshall's influence opens up some very large questions, going far beyond the scope of this paper. Here I want to focus on some curious historical gaps and unanswered questions in Marshalls Citizenship and Social Class-gaps that relate both to Marshall's account of the longer-term historical past and to contemporary movements in his own times. First, in a British context, I am puzzled by his narrative of the long-term evolution of citizenship and welfare rights, as these had developed from the 'early-modern' period through into the twentieth-century. And, secondly, in a wider European context, I am equally if not more puzzled by Marshall's relation to the massive debates about citizenship and rights of all kinds that was going on in Europe during the mid-to-late-1940s, at exactly the moment when he was preparing his Cambridge lectures on those same themes.

Suggested Citation

  • Harris, Jose, 2010. "Citizenship in Britain and Europe: some missing links in T.H. Marshall's theory of rights," Working papers of the ZeS 02/2010, University of Bremen, Centre for Social Policy Research (ZeS).
  • Handle: RePEc:zbw:zeswps:022010

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