Mental Health, Social Policy and the Law by Tom Butler (auth.)

By Tom Butler (auth.)

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Such a development nurtured a belief in self-interest and nationality which, in turn , began to focus on those sections of society which failed to contribute economically . In such an increasingly regulated and ordered society, it would be anomolous for the socially dependent to use parish funds which allowed them to appear , metaphorically, as free agents. It would be foolhardy to argue that early-nineteethcentury lunacy was an example of romantic criticism of nascent capitalism. But the political and legislative activity of the period suggests that socially dependent groups were under closer scrutiny by political authorities locally and nationally .

This relationship would influence not only the political and philosophical issue of liberty and the state, but also the actual relationship between local and central government. It would create public officials whose task it was to mediate routine working relationships and implement and oversee new policies and laws . The lunacy issue was itself a peripheral issue to society as a whole , but the attempt to change lunacy practice and establish new lunacy policies was to have wide implications. It allowed for a vehicle to be used to challenge existing political authority and relationships, and it provided a venue to discuss the political and philosophical relationship between the state and society.

P The electoral reforms of 1832 which transformed the machinery for representation were mirrored locally in the Municipal Corporation Act of 1835. This Act allowed for a degree of local self-government through the election of local lay officials , the councillors. Central government had conceded to become an elected assembly , whilst those who administered the law locally, the Magistrates, continued in office by selection. The balance between Westminster and the parishes had shifted to a degree that local government took its lead on issues of policy and practice from the new central government departments.

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