This chapter traces discourses of welfare in Britain by considering some post Second World War discourses of welfare (associated with modernity) and discourses of welfare towards the end of the twentieth century (often identified with late modernity). The main concern of the chapter is with how these discourses are gendered, particularly in relation to the gendering of men in families, as social workers and social work service users/recipients. It emphasizes the close association of men with the roles of ‘breadwinner’ and ‘soldier/hero’ in discourses of welfare in the middle of the twentieth century and the discursive production of men in relation to ‘risk’ by discourses of welfare in the latter decades of the century. The final section of the chapter considers the ways in which discourses of ‘risk’ associated with men impinge on social work practice. It also identifies the ways in which associations between men and ‘risk’ may contribute to men’s exclusion from some social work services and raises questions about their roles in the social work profession.
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