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Oppenheimer M, Deakin N. Beveridge and voluntary action. 2011.
Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://e-publications.une.edu.au/1959.11/9276
Beveridge and voluntary action
William Beveridge's report 'Voluntary action: a report on methods of social advance' was published in October 1948. When his earlier and more well-known report 'Social insurance and allied services' appeared in December 1942, the winter cold failed to put off long queues of purchasers. A second report on tackling unemployment had a similarly warm reception. Beveridge became a household name across the world as the 'father of the welfare state'. Yet in sharp contrast 'Voluntary action', his third report, provoked very little interest and rapidly disappeared from view. Beveridge himself continued to attract considerable attention for his contribution to the creation of the British social security system and the impact across the world of his ideas on a social service state. Yet even his biographer, Jose Harris, who contributes a chapter to this book, barely mentioned 'Voluntary action' in the first edition of her book. However, the profound shift in attitudes in Britain and elsewhere during the last two decades about the respective roles of governments and the voluntary sector and their relationship was reflected in Harris's second edition, which now included a full critical account of 'Voluntary action.' For the promotion of voluntary action has become a very popular concept across and beyond politics, and voluntary organisations are now significant players in public policy across the political spectrum and in many different countries. As a result, many people are now looking at Beveridge's 'Voluntary action' in a new light while exploring possible answers to many twenty-first-century dilemmas. In order to reflect upon the significance of Voluntary action and explore its contemporary relevance, a group of historians from Britain, Australia, Canada and New Zealand gathered together in November 2008 at a symposium to mark the sixtieth anniversary of its publication. Convened by the United Kingdom Voluntary Action History Society and hosted by the Menzies Centre for Australian Studies in London, the symposium sought to explain and evaluate the legacy of Beveridge's 'Voluntary action' in Britain and the 'wider British world'.