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Freedom versus security: debates on social risks in Western Germany in the 1950s

Freiheit versus Sicherheit: die Debatte um soziale Risiken in Westdeutschland in den 1950ern
[journal article]

Haunschild, Meike


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Abstract The article outlines the debate on the expansion of the welfare state in Western Germany during the 1950s. This debate does not only provide important insights into the self-perception of Western German society. It can also be read as a risk debate, because the contemporaries were aware of the ambivalent effects of the preventive measures against poverty: While especially social democrats emphasised the stabilising effect of the fight against poverty on democracy, politicians from economic-liberal circles stressed the risk that such measures could give the state excessive power over its citizens. Despite the consensual conviction of all relevant political actors that an expansion of the welfare state was historically consequent and expected by the population, the weighing of individual freedom on the one hand and social security on the other hand coined the debate on, as well as the organisation of, the Western German welfare state. (author's abstract)
Keywords welfare state; social security; social welfare state; risk society; poverty; combating poverty; social policy; social rights; insurance claim; self-responsibility; freedom; post-war period; twentieth century; old federal states; Federal Republic of Germany
Classification Social Security; Basic Research, General Concepts and History of Social Policy; Social History, Historical Social Research
Document language English
Publication Year 2016
Page/Pages p. 176-200
Journal Historical Social Research, 41 (2016) 1
Issue topic Risk as an analytical category: selected studies in the social history of the twentieth century
ISSN 0172-6404
Status Published Version; peer reviewed
Licence Creative Commons - Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works