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The Social Question and the Rise of the Welfare State in Germany

HIST 347
Fall 2014
Section: 01  
Course Cluster: Disability Studies

Germany was one of the first countries to define a "social question" and develop a modern welfare state. While German welfare provisions later became models for similar programs in most industrial countries, many enduring attributes of the welfare state owe much to the peculiar German context out of which it arose and the unlikely set of forces that helped to shape it. This advanced seminar explores this history by analyzing the development of the German social question, social research, and social policy from the late 18th century to the mid-20th century. Drawing on a wealth of primary and secondary sources, the course begins by investigating the poor relief and agricultural reform policies of the Old Regime, the Stein-Hardenberg reforms in Prussia, and the problem of pauperism before and during the 1848 Revolution. Most of the seminar analyzes the transformation of the social question between 1850 and 1930 through rapid agricultural change, industrial growth, urbanization, and the rise of Social Democracy, exploring the impact of these processes on workers, the middle classes, public opinion, political parties, academics, and government officials. We will focus especially on the passage of Bismarck's social insurance legislation in the 1880s, allowing a critical assessment of the conditions, opinions, and interests that enabled the creation of the first welfare state. Finally, we will assess the social question and welfare state as they are relevant to evaluating Germany's "special path" of historical development in the 20th century by drawing the German welfare state into comparative perspective.
Credit: 1 Gen Ed Area Dept: SBS HIST
Course Format: SeminarGrading Mode: Student Option
Level: UGRD Prerequisites: None
Fulfills a Major Requirement for: (HIST)
Past Enrollment Probability: 90% or above

Last Updated on MAY-26-2015
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