The imperial welfare state? Decolonisation, education and professional interventions on immigrant children in Birmingham, 1948–1971

Christian Ydesen, Kevin Myers

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article approaches debates about how the history of the post-1945 English welfare state might be written. It argues that professionals’ interventions on immigrant children can serve as a prism for understanding the crafting of the modern English welfare state. In this sense the article engages with the narrative about the resilience of a post-war British history which sees 1945 as a moment of profound rupture symbolized by the demise of Empire, the development of a universal welfare state, the coming of mass immigration that brought with it social problems whose management presaged a distinctive British multiculturalism.
Due to its influential impact on the development of immigrant education policies in England and because of its extensive education archive the article uses the Birmingham Local Education Administration (LEA) as an empirical and historical case. The significant British Nationality Act of 1948 and the Immigration Act of 1971 serve as demarcations of the period treated.
The article concludes that the immigrant child, and the child’s background, were consistently presented as educational problems and as the cause of both poor academic attainment and a more intangible unwillingness to assimilate. In this lens the crafting of the post-war English welfare state was a continuation of an imperial project shoring up imperial boundaries within as the former colonized appeared on English soil.
Original languageEnglish
JournalPaedagogica Historica: International Journal of the History of Education
Volume52
Issue number5
Pages (from-to)453-466
Number of pages14
ISSN0030-9230
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2016

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