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By Jonathan Toms (auth.)

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Sample text

He opted for the latter. Two or three minutes later the door reopened. “You still here? ” ‘And I just went right in, to find three other uncomely men sitting round a table with cards and glasses, smoking cigarettes. They all stared at me woodenly. It was like a scene from a movie’. ” “You don’t say? ” “Her boy! ” “Well who are you then? ” “I’m a social worker. I want to talk to Mrs Shostakovitch. ” “Oh, a social worker. ” Wills was ‘beginning to feel distinctly uncomfortable by now and wondered what was the most dignified way of retreating .

History itself had a progressive character and, through personal relations, ‘the idle’ might have their characters brought back into accordance with it. 81 This approach, in fact, reveals the ambiguous stance the COS held to other elements of modern state power commonly seen as problematic by theorists and social reformers. One was the rationalization of power—the processes of ordering, measuring and systematizing. The Bosanquets’ social philosophy emphasized personal relations of authority constituted in the family, and so they opposed any idea that the personal volition necessary for moral behaviour could be accessed through the blunt instruments of administrative procedures or statistics.

However, according to Helen Bosanquet, the problem was that some people were too satisfied with the basics of eating, drinking and sleeping. In terms of idealist thinking, these people had, in effect, deviated from progressive history. Their failure to develop progressive wants led them to be ruled by their ‘habits’, much as instincts ruled animals. The Bosanquets and the COS reckoned, however, that social work could correct bad habits and raise individuals to a better standard of character. History itself had a progressive character and, through personal relations, ‘the idle’ might have their characters brought back into accordance with it.

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