In a series of lectures in 1949, the British sociologist T. H. Marshall, used the concept of citizenship to formulate an engaging conceptual representation of the emergence of the Western welfare state. The welfare state, he suggested, personified the attainment of full citizenship rights. Civil (or human) rights which were first secured through political struggle in the 18th century, were augmented by the granting of political rights in the 19th. In the 20th century, the institutionalization of social rights in the welfare state guaranteed that basic human needs would be met.

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