'Social evils' and 'social problems' in Britain, 1904–2008

In a contribution to the JRF's 'social evils' series, Jose Harris examines social problems and changing perceptions of them since 1904. Social evils, such as hunger and destitution, were seen by the Victorians as unavoidable. Joseph Rowntree's more positive philosophy promoted social research and intervention to transform 'social evils' into less malign 'social problems' that could be cured. However, some of these problems have subsequently reappeared.