Relations of extraction, relations of redistribution: Empire, nation, and the construction of the British welfare state

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Abstract

The consolidation of the British welfare state in the mid-twentieth century did not only coincide with the systematic dismantling of the British Empire but was significantly shaped by the empire that preceded it. The story that tends to be told about the welfare state, however, situates it firmly within the national context. Such understandings go on to shape contemporary political debates centered on questions of entitlement and concerns over legitimacy. In this article, I reassess the standard accounts of taxation and welfare that are claimed to be central to the construction of the nation to demonstrate how taking the empire into account offers the possibility of a different political response to the challenges we are faced with today.

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Bhambra, G. K. (2022). Relations of extraction, relations of redistribution: Empire, nation, and the construction of the British welfare state. British Journal of Sociology, 73(1), 4–15. https://doi.org/10.1111/1468-4446.12896

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