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Conceptualizing the StateInnovation and Dispute in British Political Thought 1880-1914$
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James Meadowcroft

Print publication date: 1995

Print ISBN-13: 9780198206019

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780198206019.001.0001

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John Hobson, Ramsay MacDonald, and the State

John Hobson, Ramsay MacDonald, and the State

(p.167) 4 John Hobson, Ramsay MacDonald, and the State
Conceptualizing the State


Oxford University Press

In the writings of J. A. Hobson (1858–1940) and J. R. MacDonald (1866–1937), consideration of the state was directly associated with ambitious projects for social reform. Both men had what could be termed a ‘qualitative’ conception of social change, arguing that reformers should eschew isolated measures in favour of a leap in social organization. Hobson's ‘organic’ reform programme was intended to eradicate poverty within a generation, abolish industrial insecurity, and provide a sound foundation for further social development. MacDonald's socialism was a superior stage towards which society was gradually being propelled. Although the time-frame and orientation of the envisaged processes were different, the advance in social organization was in both cases to be achieved through the state, and the index of its accomplishment would be a radical shift in the social responsibilities assumed by the state.

Keywords:   J. A. Hobson, J. R. MacDonald, state, social reform, social change, social organization, poverty, socialism, social development

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