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The Origins, Building, and Impact of a Social Welfare State in Late Colonial Singapore

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Title:The Origins, Building, and Impact of a Social Welfare State in Late Colonial Singapore
Authors:Ho, Chi Tim
Keywords:colonial policy
social welfare
Date Issued:Dec 2016
Publisher:[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [December 2016]
Abstract:This study asks two broad questions: How did state and society in colonial Singapore respond to the social needs of a human life over time, at birth, youth and adulthood, during illness, injury and unemployment, and finally old age, retirement and death? What kind of state eventually emerged to address those needs? Addressing those questions, this study offers an augmented understanding of state-building via a colonial policy that created a social welfare state in late colonial Singapore. The state is more than a series of institutions, bureaucracies, and policies erected for the purposes of administering a territory and its peoples. The state is also the result of historical processes and experiences arising from individual decisions and actions. The social welfare state here refers to the institutions, structures, processes, and the individuals working within to effect social welfare. Arising from a mix of metropolitan and global factors, social welfare was part of a new imperial policy after the Second World War to create cohesive communities out of plural societies that would eventually be self-governing, and ideally join the British commonwealth of nations. The history presented is a local one as the introduction and implementation of social welfare in postwar Singapore were complicated by local circumstances, namely the unpredictable responses of a colonial society unfamiliar with a deliberate state presence in social welfare and the challenges of decolonization. This study puts at the forefront the migrant worker, the colonial administrator, the concerned volunteer, the social welfare officer, the social worker, and the people they helped. Their lives and experiences gave meaning and coherency to the social welfare state that emerged in late colonial Singapore. Each individual moreover experienced colonialism differently and vividly, making it more than an ordinary period of time in Singapore’s past. Colonialism’s varied legacies on Singapore have yet to be fully appreciated, especially those affecting social policy, state-societal relations, nation-building, and historical research. This study is an attempt at elucidating those issues.
Description:Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2016.
Includes bibliographical references.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - History

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