T.H. Marshall, ‘Citizenship & Social Class’

M = Marshall

Key Concepts & Guidance Questions

This is perhaps the most famous article on citizenship ever written! M explains how adequate social rights can lead to more equal opportunity in society – even though there will still be differences between social classes.

Note: When M refers to ‘Marshall’ (e.g. first line of p. 8), he is referring not to himself, but to his predecessor Alfred Marshall, a famous economist!

  • What ‘sociological hypothesis’ about equality in society is M investigating (note he refers to Alfred Marshall here) (top, p. 8)
  • Why does capitalism pose a challenge to the idea of citizens as equals? (p. 17-18)
  • Why do civil rights not guarantee equality? (e.g. equal property ownership) (p. 20)
  • How, in 18-19th century England, could a person have a right but no remedy? (p. 20-22)
  • Why did thinking in English society move toward the idea of greater equality through the provision of social rights? (p. 22-24)
  • How does M describe social rights (p. 24, first paragraph?)
  • Explain in your own words what M means by ‘a universal right to real income which is not proportionate to the market value of the claimant’ (p. 26, top)
  • What are the ‘income limit’, ‘means test’ and ‘scale income’? (p. 27)
  • Why does M say that, with enough social benefits, ‘money income’ would become meaningless compared with ‘real income’? (p. 28 para. 3)
  • What is the ‘guaranteed minimum’? (p. 28, bottom)
  • How can differences in provided services lead to social labelling in society? (p. 30). Try to think of similar examples of healthcare and education from your own experience.
  • Social rights sound wonderful! Why can’t the state just give them in every respect, to everyone in society? (p. 31)
  • What does M think is the ultimate aim of social rights? (p. 34)
  • Do you agree with M’s conclusion that political equality can coexist with economic and social inequality? (p. 38-40)

Application Questions

  • Read the case study below. How do Marshall’s ideas apply to Singapore?
  • Think of the electoral promises at the rally you attended. Are there examples which are (1) social rights (2) based on the idea that citizens should have more social equality?
  • Why do large sections of U.S. society reject the idea of social rights (think of the opposition to Obamacare)? What arguments are given against social rights?

Case Study

‘Rethinking the Delivery of Public Welfare Programmes in Singapore’ (c-281)