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The Politics of German Child Welfare from the Empire to the Federal Republic

The Politics of German Child Welfare from the Empire to the Federal Republic

Edward Dickinson

ISBN 9780674688629

Publication date: 04/01/1996

The model of the development of child welfare policy presented here illuminates the complexity of the struggles from which modern social policy emerged, and accounts for the ways in which similar policies could be adapted to changing political systems--monarchical, republican, or fascist. Following a period of policy innovation, rapid institutional expansion, and intensifying ideological conflict before the First World War, Dickinson shows, the period from 1918 to 1961 saw a succession of efforts to reconcile competing policy agendas within different political contexts: the corporatist-democratic compromise worked out in the early years of the Weimar Republic, which broke down in the economic and political crisis at the end of the 1920s; the disastrous Nazi synthesis of authoritarianism and racism; and a revitalized corporatist-democratic framework, stabilized on the basis of the antitotalitarian consensus and of psychotherapeutic theory and practice, after 1949.

Historians of modern Germany and of the welfare state will find this a challenging and illuminating approach to important theoretical and historical questions.


  • At the center of Edward Ross Dickinson's excellent study are the contests and conflicts that shaped the field of child welfare in Germany across four changes of regime between the mid-nineteenth century and the 1960s. This long time span--and Dickinson's adept charting of continuities and ruptures in the visions and practices of child welfare across it--bespeaks only one of the book's many ambitions. Impressively cognizant of the pertinent historiography of state, welfare, and civil society in Germany and other European countries, Dickinson's book resituates social reform and social policy at the heart of the state-civil society nexus in modern Germany...Grounded in an obviously rich collection of archival sources, Dickinson analyzes a myriad of organizations and institutions...A nuanced analysis.

    —Kathleen Canning, American Historical Review


  • Edward Ross Dickinson is Lecturer in History, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand.

Book Details

  • 6-3/8 x 9-1/4 inches
  • Harvard University Press