Origins of the French Welfare State: The Struggle for Social Reform in France, 1914-1947

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This is the first comprehensive analysis of public and private welfare in France available in English, or French, which offers a deeply-researched explanation of how France's welfare state came to be and why the French are so attached to it. The author argues that France simultaneously pursued two different paths toward universal social protection. Family welfare embraced an industrial model in which class distinctions and employer control predominated. By contrast, protection against the risks of illness, disability, maternity, and old age followed a mutual aid model of welfare. The book examines a remarkably broad cast of actors that includes workers' unions, employers, mutual leaders, the parliamentary elite, haut fonctionnaires, doctors, pronatalists, women's organizations - both social Catholic and feminist - and diverse peasant organisations. It also traces foreign influences on French social reform, particularly from Germany's former territories in Alsace-Lorraine and Britain's Beveridge Plan.