It should be clear from the preceding chapters that this book treats welfare rights as an ambiguous phenomenon. T.H. Marshall, whose concept of social rights was discussed at length in Chapter 1, looked upon social rights as a civilising influence, a form of ‘class abatement’ with consequences both for the stability of society and for the structure of social equality. Implicitly, this civilising influence would not only tame the excesses and redress the diswelfares of the capitalist system, but it would also temper or refine the conduct of the working class. The nature of this inherent ambiguity is most clearly brought out by Ian Gough, who has written of the welfare state that:

It simultaneously embodies tendencies to enhance social welfare, to develop the powers of individuals, to exert control over the blind play of market forces; and tendencies to repress and control people, to adapt them to the requirements of the capitalist economy. (1979: 12)