Young and his colleagues at the Institute of Community Studies promoted the supportive kinship networks of the urban working class, and an idealized conception of the relationships between women, to suggest that family had been overlooked by the left and should be reclaimed as a progressive force. Introduction After the general election of Michael Young felt drained and disillusioned.
Selected publications : Jennifer Platt : University of Sussex
Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For Permissions, please email: journals. But after 5 years in government, new policies were more difficult to come by. He recalled that despite his best efforts, he and his colleagues had failed to find a satisfactory new policy direction.
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But when he arrived back in Britain, Young returned not to public policy, but sociology. And it was through sociology that he would mount a critique of the post-war settlement.
As Ben Jackson has described, sociologists like Richard Titmuss, Peter Townsend, and Michael Young contributed to a mutualist and organicist strand of left-wing political thought in the s. Inspired by the socially transformative experience of wartime, these groups looked to working-class social practices, traditional ways of life, and the extended family for inspiration. It promised to study the way in which ordinary people interacted with the newly expanded social service sector, and asked whether the organs of the state were in cooperation or conflict with established patterns of family support and mutual aid.
Bethnal Green had long suffered from overcrowding and poor housing conditions, and was subject to mass slum clearance and replanning in the decade after the war. By , as Young and Willmott would report in a radio broadcast, something like one family left the area every day, often for the housing estates of rural Essex.
Young and Willmott suggested that extended family ties and kinship networks provided an essential web of support for the residents of Bethnal Green, and that those who moved to the suburbs suffered from a decline in quality of life as a result of their relative isolation. Young and Willmott described their focus on the extended family in Bethnal Green as a natural outgrowth of empirical research.
Young had also considered a funding application to the Eugenics Society, and would unsuccessfully seek support from the National Corporation for the Care of Old People. This was not entirely true.
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A History of Sociology in Britain: Science, Literature, and Society
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