The State of Welfare and Poverty

Document Type:Essay

Subject Area:Social Work

Document 1

However, poverty still remains an issue in the present society. Canada has walked in the same states as the U. S when it comes to developing its welfare system. The same ideologies, approaches, and political concerns seem to be at play in the country. At the same time, these ideologies appear to be remnants of the same principles underlying the Elizabethan Poor Laws, the Settlement Movement, and the Charity Organization Society. The purpose of this study is to examine the Elizabethan Poor Law, the Settlement Movement, and the Charity Organization Society’s approaches to aiding the poor. This examination will reveal which systems of indoor and outdoor relief remain intact today. The History of Welfare: From Poor Houses to Charity Organization Society Katz (1995) details the history of welfare in the society. Historical approaches to the welfare system had to do with the diagnosis of the problem. In Europe, problems such as famine, pestilence, and the collapse of the feudal system during the middle ages sparked the need for a working welfare system. In response to this social problem, England passed several Poor Laws between mid-1300 to mid-1800s. One of the most significant laws was the Elizabethan Poor Law of 1601 (Katz 1995). This Law established three key categories of relief recipients. They include: the “able-bodied” poor, the dependent children, and the “impotent” poor. The individuals categorized under the able-bodied poor were put to work where they earned little. If a person refused to work, they were put to jail. The individuals categorized as the impotent poor, for instance, the elderly, and the disabled were placed in an almshouse.

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Lastly, children whose parents or caretakers were unable to provide for them were apprenticed to other citizens where they served up to a certain age (Katz 1995). Overall, the system was localized, crude, and harsh on the poor. The Elizabethan Poor Law was introduced into the Laws governing the American colonies. Through rigorous investigation, the organization was able to identify fraudulent claims. As for the truly poor, the COS was able to identify the cause of the poverty. In the 19th century, the COS was introduced to North America. The organization took on a more scientific approach to deal with the growing dependence. This scientific approach included investigating the applicant, registration and supervision of the person applying for charity (Carniol, 2005). For instance, in 1551, political figures such as William Cecil, Queen Elizabeth’s Chief Minister, advocated for more stringent measures in dealing with the poor to avoid aiding men with an interest in “hastily acquiring wealth and honor.

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” In 1834, there was an amendment of the “Poor Law” in a bid to make the services offered as harsh as possible so as to discourage people from seeking assistance from the state. Guest (1997) analyzes the ideologies that influenced the welfare system in Canada. Similar to the categorization of the poor in England and North America, the welfare system consists of a category of the poor. Canada’s welfare system has passed through several phases in accordance to the corresponding political, economic, and societal development. Also, the power of factory owners to hire and fire people at will left masses of people vulnerable to unemployment (Parks, 2009). The urban setting is another notable change triggered by industrialization. Urbanization altered the traditional institutions of family and community, thereby leading the people exposed to a whole new set of social problems.

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The economic and social upheavals brought about by industrialization triggered social reforms in Canada. In 1890 to 1939, there were social and moral reforms that sought to reshape the country. Whereas the COS viewed the registered members as clients, the settlement movement took on a more “community approach. ” In conclusion, the studies analyzed revealed that the development of welfare system was a more complex system. This complex system was influenced by various elements such as the economy, demographics, politics, as well as cultural and ideological traditions. The perceptions of poverty particularly be the elite influenced the degree of harshness that was taken when dealing with the poor. Alternatively, it is suffice to state that the changes made were triggered by pressure from the society. B. Improving poor people: The welfare state, the “underclass,” and urban schools as history.

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Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. Parks Canada. Canadian Workers in History: An Interpretation: 1600-1975. New York: Oxford University Press.

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