The Divided Path: The German Influence on Social Reform in France after 1870

By Allan Mitchell | Go to book overview

Chapter I
The Aegis of Liberalism

The middle of the nineteenth century is commonly recognized as the liberal era of European history. Yet specialists of that period readily concede the extreme difficulty of deriving a coherent definition of liberalism. The complexities and disparities of liberal theory defy any neat analytic structure; and the multiplicity of liberal practice tends to defeat even the most ingenious schemes of classification.1

Disagreement therefore persists about the most appropriate grouping of the three major west European nations--not to mention the smaller ones. One view stresses the vigorous and pervasive liberal dynamic of English tradition, contrasting that with a more cautious and contested liberalism on the Continent.2 Another regards the German variant as unique because of its unbroken attachment to the authority of the state, unlike the more democratically oriented liberalism of "the West."3 A third school dwells on the pivotal role of Gallic liberalism, granting scant attention to the rest and implicitly according a special status to French experience as the bellwether of political thought before and after the Great Revolution.4

In the face of such daunting theoretical perplexities, it is well to begin with a few elementary assumptions. First, we may suppose that every one of the principal European countries boasted a form of liberalism that was distinctive. There exists, after all, no absolute criterion by which to determine what was normative and what was not. The distribution of ideal liberal types actually reveals little more than the predilection of certain scholars. Second, there is ample reason to posit that European liberalism, although fragmented, nevertheless

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The Divided Path: The German Influence on Social Reform in France after 1870
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Tables ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xv
  • Part One - Private Charity and Public Health 1
  • Chapter I - The Aegis of Liberalism 3
  • Chapter 2 - The Demographic Imperative 24
  • Chapter 3 - The German Model 44
  • Chapter 4 - The Sources of Social Reform 68
  • Part Two - The Intersections of Reform 95
  • Chapter 5 - Men and Women 97
  • Chapter 6 - Physicians and Patients 119
  • Chapter 7 - Paristans and Provincials 144
  • Chapter 8 - Managers and Workers 166
  • Part Three - National Crisis and Social Security 191
  • Chapter 9 - The Funding of Reform 193
  • Chapter 10 - The Dilemma of Mutual Societies 223
  • Chapter 11 - The Parable of Tuberculosis 252
  • Chapter 12 - The Embarrassment of Choice 276
  • Conclusion - Republic and Reich, 1870-1914 300
  • Notes 317
  • Bibliography 367
  • Index 385
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