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Lists with This Book. This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Community Reviews. Showing Average rating 3. Rating details. More filters. Sort order. Start your review of Equality. Jan 19, Gary Armstrong rated it it was amazing. In Equality, Tawney lampoons one of Capitalism's main props - it fosters an equality of opportunity that allows all to rise according to their ability.

Tawney did not believe that the principle of equality of opportunity was inherently wrong; on the contrary, societies only maintained their vitality by drawing on a fresh stream of talent, and exceptional contributions should receive their due. However, the concept had been contaminated by capitalism, transformed from a liberating idea that remov In Equality, Tawney lampoons one of Capitalism's main props - it fosters an equality of opportunity that allows all to rise according to their ability.

However, the concept had been contaminated by capitalism, transformed from a liberating idea that removed the dead hand of the feudal aristocracy to a justificatory platitude to maintain the predominance of the industrial plutocracy.

This ideological support, or in Tawney's more elegant expression the "decorous drapery" which hid the brute reality of Capitalism, was reinforced by the prevalence of the Tadpole philosophy. Such exceptions should not disguise the fact that social outcomes are conditioned by circumstances. The massive inequalities that characterised the capitalism, with the working classes denied an adequate education, unable to access effective health care and housed in slums meant that equality of opportunity was nothing more than a cruel jest, the "impertinent courtesy of an invitation offered to unwelcome guests, in the certainty that circumstances will prevent them from accepting it".

What was required was not merely "an open road, but To those who protested that the efforts to establish an equal start would compromise liberty, Tawney responded that real freedom required social justice. To be accorded rights in a constitution is one thing, to be able to exercise them is quite another. Without an active programme to improve the conditions of the working classes, liberty was nothing more than an abstraction, a constitutional platitude to be admired but not actualised.

To make freedom effective, the social segregation that was a hallmark of the Capitalist system had to be tackled. Crucially, Tawney did not merely see social exclusion as a problem of the poor; it applied to the rich whose lofty position allowed them to opt out of social intercourse. This estrangement was not purely a product of wealth disparities, but also educational apartheid - the fact that British schools were arranged along class lines, with the upper classes cosseted in private educational establishments and the working class confined to underfunded schools, ensured that British society's most impressionable members were corrupted by the class mentality in their formative years.

This early initiation foreshadowed the inequalities of adult existence, with classes living separate lives, only meeting in the context of the cash nexus - the arena of exploitation.

This material and psychological gulf between rich and poor was souring social relations, with servility and resentment on one hand and patronage and arrogance on the other. As well as the social consequences of inequality, the politico-economic dimension needed to be understood. Tawney objected that power was almost exclusively analysed as a political concept - there was another locus of power that was increasingly impinging on our existence: the economy.

The predatory nature of capitalism, which distributed power not on the basis of a democratic mandate but through the possession of wealth, meant that the concerns of the private sector were privileged over the public interest. For Tawney, such an exercise of economic power was arbitrary, imperilling the democratic basis of the country, and consigning the great mass of the population to the precarious position of dependence on the self- serving decisions of capitalist enterprises.

Power, whether it be political or economic, should be wielded on the basis of consent, be fully accountable to the People and exercised in terms of common interests - on all counts capitalism stood condemned. Tawney's strategy for equality was expansive and redistributive. The gap between rich and poor needed to be closed from both directions: alleviating the poverty of the working class; and limiting the capacity of the middle and upper classes to opt out of social intercourse.

Tawney argued large incomes should be subjected to progressive taxation, and substantial death duties, and redistributed, not through a direct financial transfer, but through a social surplus that invested in public services.

This closure of the gap was not merely a recognition of the need for economic justice, but also an attempt to end divisions by bring classes within reach each other to produce a cohesive society in which all were judged in terms of their individual merit, not their class location. In the current climate of economic turbulence, free market fundamentalism is under a sustained assault for the very reasons outlined in Tawney's work.

There is a strong case to be made that the market has over reached itself, not merely because of its failure to generate sustainable growth, but because it has encouraged forms of human behaviour, like greed and selfishness, that are morally and socially suspect.

Within this discourse of social and economic decay, Tawney's appeal for a more humane society focussed on collective social concerns does resonant. View all 5 comments. Jun 17, Marty rated it really liked it. First published in "Equality" is a political treatise based on the series of lectures by Professor Tawney in The "Tawney Society" has been an influential social democratic group within the Labour and the co-operative movement and represents the broad values outlined in this and other books by Prof.

It considers the concepts First published in "Equality" is a political treatise based on the series of lectures by Professor Tawney in It considers the concepts associated with "equality of opportunity" and makes the analogy of the economy being a horse and rider, with everyone having an equal chance of being trampled to death!! He rejects this as being inadequate and favours growth in communal provision to promote greater actual equality and human dignity within society. The book's conclusion is that material wealth "is not the greatest of man's treasures" and that society would be happier and better served when rewards "are less greedily grasped and more freely shared.

Tawney, along with the economist John Maynard Keynes, were leading architects of these fundamental social improvements. We have since suffered the disasters of the greedy, vile Thatcher years when so much was done to "sell off the silver" overturn social progress and bring back victorian values. So while life is undoubtedly more complex than ever, we still have need to remember the lessons of the past; greater equality is just as necessary today both in Britain and indeed the world.

I first read this book about 25 years ago and it was a major influence on my own political views and activity as a social democrat in the war against Thatcherism. Mar 17, John rated it liked it. It is worth a read, especially in historical context as it covers the ideas and beliefs that generated the welfare state. Alejandro rated it really liked it May 22, Joe rated it liked it Sep 26, Karl Hickey rated it really liked it Aug 27, Melinda rated it it was amazing Nov 21, Silver Sillak rated it it was amazing Jun 06, Ryan rated it liked it Jul 23, Kathy rated it did not like it Aug 20, Wicaksono Adi rated it it was ok Oct 27, David Benbow rated it really liked it Jan 11, Feelixus Xu rated it really liked it Feb 28, Luke rated it liked it Oct 30, Pessoa rated it really liked it Dec 24, Bela L.

M rated it really liked it Dec 25, Suzanne rated it really liked it Feb 16, Pablo Aguayo westwood rated it it was amazing Feb 20, Polly James rated it it was amazing Jan 07, Jyoti Tirkey rated it really liked it Jun 16, Caledon added it May 30, Hannah marked it as to-read Aug 06, Tom Schneitter marked it as to-read Mar 11, Sean marked it as to-read Sep 13, Rich B added it Jan 24, Clare White is currently reading it Jul 21, Jim Grove marked it as to-read Aug 15, Michael Postlewhite marked it as to-read Aug 18, Andrew Mcallister marked it as to-read Aug 25,


R. H. Tawney

Richard Henry Tawney was a noted economic historian, educator and activist. At Rugby R. At Balliol, he deepened his appreciation of social moralism and joined the Christian Social Union. He joined the Fabians in and left to work at the University of Glasgow as an assistant in economics.

DIN 4543-1 PDF

How my support for Labour turned from tribal to ideological

And I knew why. All Hattersleys were Labour. My allegiance was purely tribal — no different in kind or quantity from the devotion I felt for Sheffield Wednesday and Yorkshire County Cricket Club. The idea that I ought to have reasons for supporting the Labour party never entered my head. My only real ambition was to open the batting for England, but I gradually accepted, without much enthusiasm, that one day I would teach history or English in an old-fashioned grammar school — leather patches on my sports-coat elbows and willingness to help with games on Saturday. By the time of the general election — in which I worked with a thoughtless partisan loyalty — I had been accepted at Leeds University to read English and Sheffield to read history. My father made me promise that, during my first year, I "would not get involved in politics".


Richard Henry Tawney, fellowship and adult education

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CERFA 13406*2 PDF

It is to wear [a mill-stone as a talisman]. Occasionally, Libertarianism. This series of selections from R. Tawney, a Christian socialist who won renown as an economic historian and social critic, examines questions of distributive justice in a manner that is plausible, sober, and fundamentally illiberal. Tawney thought economic inequality was questionable in itself, but also that it begat political inequality. More than eighty years after it was first published, the arguments in Equality retain much of their currency. There is evidence, also, in these passages, of the common heiritage shared by modern liberalism and libertarianism.

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