Making Security Social

Disability, Insurance, and the Birth of the Social Entitlement State in Germany
Greg Eghigian


While welfare has been subject to pronounced criticism throughout the twentieth century, social insurance has consistently enjoyed the overwhelming support of European policy makers and citizens. This volume argues that the emergence of social insurance represents a paradigmatic shift in modern understandings of health, work, political participation, and government. By institutionalizing compensation, social insurance transformed it into a right that the employed population quickly came to assume.

Theoretically informed and based on intensive archival research on disability insurance records, most of which have never been used by historians, the book considers how social science and political philosophy combined to give shape to the idea of a "social" insurance in the nineteenth century; the process by which social insurance gave birth to modern notions of "disability" and "rehabilitation"; and the early-twentieth-century development of political action groups for the disabled.

Most earlier histories of German social insurance have been legislative histories that stressed the system's coercive features and functions. Making Security Social, by contrast, emphasizes the administrative practices of everyday life, the experience of consumers, and the ability of workers not only to resist, but to transform, social insurance bureaucracy and political debate. It thus demonstrates that social insurance was pivotal in establishing a general attitude of demand, claim, and entitlement as the primary link between the modern state and those it governed.

In addition to historians of Germany, Making Security Social will attract researchers across disciplines who are concerned with public policy, disability studies, and public health.

Greg Eghigian is Associate Professor of History, PennState University.

Praise / Awards

  • "The argument at the core of the book is elegant. . . . A rich book, one that rewards the careful reader with complex and provocative insights. . . . His effort to construct a broader historical and historiographical perspective is also fruitful. His willingness to raise essential theoretical issues, and to make bold theoretical and interpretive assertions, is particularly rewarding. This book will be essential reading for those interested in the history of German welfare state."
    ---Edward Ross Dickinson, American Historical Journal, October 2001
  • "[A] wide-ranging and perceptive study. . . . This is a rewarding study, not only for scholars interested in social welfare, but for historians who want to understand more about the relationship between Germans and the administrative agencies of the state."
    ---Vernon L. Lidtke, Johns Hopkins University, Bulletin of the History of Medicine, Volume 76 (2002)
  • ". . . Eghigian's study is well informed about the manifold issues upon which it touches, and the reader could not wish for a better guide through the vast amount of the secondary literature than the one provided here."
    ---Hermann Beck, University of Miami, Central European History, Volume 35: No. 3 (2002)
  • "Eghigian deserves credit for approaching the history of social insurance in Germany from the perspective of invalid workers and their representative organizations. He deserves more credit for questioning conventional and long established interpretations. Greg Eghigian has made an important contribution to the historiography of the welfare state."
    ---Larry Ping, German Studies Review

  • ". . . despite all of the assaults it has been forced to endure in the twentieth century---including the racist perversions introduced by the Nazis---social security appears to have become an indispensable component of any German social contract, regardless of political regime. Eghigian's impressive analysis of the theory and practice of social insurance since the 1800s helps us to understand why the search for social security should be seen as one of the more important continuities in the history of twentieth-century Germany."
    ---David F. Crew, University of Texas, Austin, Journal of Modern History, September 2002

Product Details

  • 312 pages.
  • 5 photographs, 4 tables.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Ebook
  • 2016
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-12223-3

  • PDF: Adobe Digital Editions e-book (DRM Protected)

Add to Cart
  • $79.95 U.S.

  • Kindle

Add to Cart

Choosing any of the above format options will take you to the appropriate e-retailer to complete your purchase. Pricing may vary by individual e-retailer. Please see e-retailer site for purchasing information.

For more information about our Digital Products, including reading systems and accessible formats, visit our Digital Products page.

Related Products

Add to Cart
  • $94.95 U.S.