Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France, 1870-1914

Overview

Traditional histories of the French Third Republic often overlook the extent to which concerns about the place of women and the health of the family influenced the course of government policy, particularly the direction of welfare reform. Combining the approaches of social and political history, Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France, 1870-1914 offers a new perspective on women's lives in the Third Republic -- and on the emergence of the welfare state in general -- by looking at the attitudes, ...

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Overview

Traditional histories of the French Third Republic often overlook the extent to which concerns about the place of women and the health of the family influenced the course of government policy, particularly the direction of welfare reform. Combining the approaches of social and political history, Gender and the Politics of Social Reform in France, 1870-1914 offers a new perspective on women's lives in the Third Republic -- and on the emergence of the welfare state in general -- by looking at the attitudes, actions, and policies of the men who held political power.

Addressing themes in the newly invigorated field of welfare-state history, contributors to this volume offer evidence that social reform in France began far earlier than is usually supposed and was a response by republican politicians and social activists to a declining population growth rate. As this demographic crisis inspired efforts to improve maternal and child health and increase the birth rate, motherhood was redefined as a public mission deserving of public support. Even though the eventual reforms resulted in greater recognition of women's role in the proper functioning of society and provided for programs beneficial to infants, the legislation enacted by the men in power was decidedly patriarchal in its scope, treating women as children rather than equals. Contributors are Elinor Accampo, Linda L. Clark, Rachel G. Fuchs, Theresa McBride, Mary Lynn Stewart, and Judith F. Stone.

"This important and timely collection of essays is a valuable contribution to this reinvigorated scholarly field. The history of the welfare state has for too long been in the suffocating grip of specialists in institutionalhistory with no vision of the wider historical setting, or has been regarded as an addendum to the history of labor organization and revolutionary socialism. This volume argues clearly and persuasively for a new orientation." -- Robert Nye, Oregon State University

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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Essays explore why bourgeois male politicians and administrators became interested in the plight of poor women and children and view their motives and social reform programs through the lenses of class and gender. Topics include an overview of gender, social policy, and the formation of the Third Republic, divorce and the republican family, Paul Strauss and the politics of motherhood, labor and family reformers, and the Third Republic's appointment of women inspectors. Paper edition (unseen), $16.95. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801850615
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 1/28/1995
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 6.07 (w) x 9.02 (h) x 0.64 (d)

Meet the Author

Elinor A. Accampo, associate professor of history at the University of Southern California, is the author of Industrialization, Family, and Class Relations. Rachel G. Fuchs, professor of history at Arizona State University, is the author of Poor and Pregnant in Paris. Mary Lynn Stewart, professor of history and chair of the Department of Women's Studies at Simon Fraser University, is the author of Women, Work, and the French State.

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Table of Contents

Preface
1 Gender, Social Policy, and the Formation of the Third Republic: An Introduction 1
2 The Republican Brotherhood: Gender and Ideology 28
3 Divorce and the Republican Family 59
4 The Right to Life: Paul Strauss and the Politics of Motherhood 82
5 Setting the Standards: Labor and Family Reformers 106
6 Bringing Feminine Qualities into the Public Sphere: The Third Republic's Appointment of Women Inspectors 128
7 France in a Comparative Perspective 157
Notes 189
Select Secondary References 223
Index 235
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