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The Birth of Solidarity: The History of the French Welfare State
by François Ewald
edited by Melinda Cooper
translated by Timothy Scott Johnson
Duke University Press, 2020
Cloth: 978-1-4780-0771-5 | Paper: 978-1-4780-0823-1 | eISBN: 978-1-4780-0921-4
Library of Congress Classification HD7175.E9313 2020

François Ewald's landmark The Birth of Solidarity—first published in French in 1986, revised in 1996, with the revised edition appearing here in English for the first time—is one of the most important historical and philosophical studies of the rise of the welfare state. Theorizing the origins of social insurance, Ewald shows how the growing problem of industrial accidents in France throughout the nineteenth century tested the limits of classical liberalism and its notions of individual responsibility. As workers and capitalists confronted each other over the problem of workplace accidents, they transformed the older practice of commercial insurance into an instrument of state intervention, thereby creating an entirely new conception of law, the state, and social solidarity. What emerged was a new system of social insurance guaranteed by the state. The Birth of Solidarity is a classic work of social and political theory that will appeal to all those interested in labor power, the making and dismantling of the welfare state, and Foucauldian notions of governmentality, security, risk, and the limits of liberalism.

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