Contemporary social policy has never been more vigorously contested. Issues range from single-issue campaigns over housing, social care, hospital closures through to organised movements around disability, environment, health and education. However, the historical and contemporary role played by social movements in shaping social welfare has too often been neglected in standard social policy texts. "Understanding social welfare movements" is the first text to bring together social policy and social movement studies. Using actual case studies and written in an accessible and engaging style, it will attract a wide readership of undergraduate and postgraduate students, higher education teachers and researchers, stakeholders and activists.Introductory chapters examine the historical and theoretical relationship between state welfare and social movements. Subsequent chapters outline the historical contribution of various social movements to the creation of the welfare state relating to Beveridge's 'five giants' of idleness, ignorance, squalor, illness and want. The book then examines the contemporary challenge posed by 'new social movements' in relation to the family, discrimination, environment, and global social justice. The book provides a timely and much needed overview of the changing nature of social welfare as it has been shaped by the demands of social movements.