Two hundred years ago, the principles of liberty, equality and fraternity were seen as radical, challenging and iconoclastic. In modern societies, although there are many differences in interpretation and approach, it has become hard to find people who do not accept the ideas to some extent. Many of the ideas around liberty, equality and fraternity are radical, in the sense that they represent a challenge to existing patterns of social relationships. Social welfare provision depends on a complex constellation of political, economic and legal provisions, conventionally described in terms of ‘welfare states’. The focus in this book on three principles — liberty, equality and fraternity — is not intended to be an account of every ideal which relates to welfare or provision. The circumstances of welfare offer an insight into those concepts.
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