ABSTRACT

Historians of nineteenth-century reform, political, administrative and social, rightly place considerable stress upon isolating and evaluating the relative importance of ideas, movements and events on the reform process. When, in 1958, Professor MacDonagh reopened the debate on nineteenth-century government growth, he criticised the haphazard way in which factors promoting social reform and central government growth (closely linked developments in his view) tended to be analysed and interrelated. Drawing upon methodology employed in the other social sciences, he constructed a five-stage model detailing the process from 'discovery' of an evil through to its bureaucratic 'solution'. The motivation behind this process was MacDonagh's 'intolerable situation' or pressure of events.2