This book is a study of the relationships between social thought, social policy and politics in Victorian Britain. Goldman focuses on the activity of the National Association for the Promotion of Social Science, known as the Social Science Association. For three decades this served as a forum for the discussion of Victorian social questions and as an influential adviser to governments, and its history discloses how social policy was made in these years. The Association, which attracted many powerful contributors, including politicians, civil servants, intellectuals and reformers, had influence over policy and legislation on matters as diverse as public health and women's legal and social emancipation. The SSA reveals the complex roots of social science and sociology buried in the non-academic milieu of nineteenth-century reform. And its influence in the United States and Europe allows for a comparative approach to political and intellectual development in this period.

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