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Adam Dinham: Religion and Welfare

16 February 12

Religion, Welfare and Education” is Chapter 8 of Religion and Change in Modern Britain (published Feb 2012 by Routledge). In this podcast Norman Winter is in conversation with one of the joint authors of this chapter, Adam Dinham.

Dr Dinham is Reader in Religion and Society at Goldsmiths, University of London, where he is also Director of the Faiths and Civil Society Unit. Goldsmiths is located in an inner-city area in south-east London and Adam Dinham spent some time in social work and community development in areas like this before embarking on his academic career. He co-wrote the chapter with Professor Robert Jackson of Warwick University, who concentrated on Education.

In this chapter Adam Dinham describes the quite radical changes in religion’s rôle in British society over the last half-century and more. He represents the changes in religion’s contribution to welfare around three major turning points.

He depicts the introduction of the National Health Service in 1948 as the beginning of a reduction and shift of religion’s contribution to welfare, which had previously been central and significant. He then talks of a period of “welfarism” which began to be replaced by a “mixed economy” of welfare provision after the election of Margaret Thatcher as Prime Minister in 1979. Her government’s policies were roundly criticised in the Church of England’s report “Faith in the City” in 1985.

Faith-based social welfare gradually found a new place in this mixed economy, especially under the Labour government which followed. In the formation of the Coalition Government in 2010 Adam Dinham sees the third significant turning point, with talk of a “Big Society” accompanying a very deliberate reduction in the state’s control and oversight of welfare provision.

In this conversation Adam Dinham expands on the chapter, discussing the prospects of a Big Society, how society’s perception of religion has shifted from it being “actor” to “provider”, and how from a social welfare perspective faith-based organisations are viewed as “social capital”. The conversation concludes with a brief look at the wider context of the USA and Europe, and whether they provide indications of what the future might hold.

Adam leads Religion and Society-funded research network FaithXChange.

Duration: 32.06

Click here for the list of podcasts about the book.

Podcasts compiled by Norman Winter 

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