Poverty, Disease, Responsibility: Arthur Newsholme and the Public Health Dilemmas of British Liberalism

As the understanding of poverty changed in the first part of the twentieth century, British government officials were forced to reexamine assumptions about the relation between poverty and disease. In contrast to the predominant Victorian view that disease caused poverty, Arthur Newsholme argued that poverty and disease were interrelated. Yet, analysis of the social components of disease was complex and often self-contradictory: Were individuals responsible for behavior that placed them at risk, or were they massive victims of social circumstances? For Newsholme the ethical evolution of society and the moral reform of individuals were not substitutes for social reform; rather, they were essential components of it.

Author(s): John M. Eyler

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Volume 67, Issue S1 (pages 109–126)
Published in 1989