Beatrice Webb

English sociologist, economist, socialist, and social reformer (1858-1943)

Martha Beatrice Webb, Baroness Passfield FBA (née Potter; 22 January 1858 – 30 April 1943), was an English sociologist, economist, socialist, labour historian and social reformer. It was Webb who coined the term collective bargaining. She was among the founders of the London School of Economics and played a crucial role in forming the Fabian Society.

Beatrice Webb, c1875.jpg

QuotesEdit

  • Within a trade, in the absence of any Common Rule, competition between firms leads, as we have seen, to the adoption of practices by which the whole industry is deteriorated. The enforcement of a common minimum standard throughout the trade not only stops the degradation, but in every way conduces to industrial efficiency.
    • Industrial Democracy, Volume Two (1897), pp. 766-767
  • Within a community, too, in the absence of regulation, the competition between trades tends to the creation and persistence in certain occupations of conditions of employment injurious to the nation as a whole. The remedy is to extend the conception of the Common Rule from the trade to the whole community, and by prescribing a National Minimum, absolutely to prevent any industry being carried on under conditions detrimental to the public welfare.
    • Industrial Democracy, Volume Two (1897), p. 767
  • We shall never understand the Awakening of Women until we realise that it is not mere feminism. It is one of three simultaneous world-movements towards a more equal partnership among human beings in human affairs. ... [T]he movement for woman's emancipation is paralleled, on the one hand, by the International Movement of Labour—the banding together of the manual working classes to obtain their place in the sun and, on the other, by the unrest among subject-peoples struggling for freedom to develop their own peculiar civilisations.
    • Article in The New Statesman (1 November 1913), quoted in Patricia M. Lengermann and Jill Niebrugge-Brantley, The Women Founders: Sociology and Social Theory, 1830-1930 (1998), p. 294

Quotes about WebbEdit

  • The world, they would say, was made up of "A's" and "B's" – anarchists and bureaucrats; and they were all on the side of the "B's".
    • G. D. H. Cole, 'Sidney Webb', Fabian Quarterly, Vol. 56 (winter 1947), p. 7
  • Their bureaucracy was never étatisme: it claimed much for the State, but much for the group also. Only the individual seemed somehow to get left out, or rather to be told to fit himself in, and not to fuss.
    • G. D. H. Cole, 'Sidney Webb', Fabian Quarterly, Vol. 56 (winter 1947), p. 7
  • It is a mistake to believe that the Webbs' basic idea was State Socialism. It was in fact nothing less than the application of scientific thinking to politics. About this I had many arguments with Beatrice. Like Bernard Shaw, she totally lacked the strain of dissenting morality which is so strong an element in the British character and especially in the Labour Party. ... They were interested in the economic and political structure of society; they were disinterestedly, and I would even say passionately, desirous of social improvement and greater human happiness. Their watchwords...were "measurement and publicity". That is to say, they wanted to substitute quantitative for qualitative arguments, to find a solution and to subject it to criticism instead of gassing about justice and liberty. To avoid the danger of tyranny they agreed that there must be freedom of criticism and "public accountability" for all State action. But they were never really interested in liberty – that is to say, they did not recognize the intractable complexity of individuals. People must be placed in categories for the purposes of government, and if they did not fit, so much the worse.
    • Kingsley Martin, Editor: A Second Volume of Autobiography, 1931-45 (1968), p. 84
  • Their first book, The Permanent Official, fills three plump volumes, and took them and their two secretaries upwards of four years to write. It is an amazingly good book, an enduring achievement. In a hundred directions the history and the administrative treatment of the public service was clarified for all time.

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