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Maternalism Reconsidered: Motherhood, Welfare and Social Policy in the Twentieth Century

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Volume 20

International Studies in Social History

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Maternalism Reconsidered

Motherhood, Welfare and Social Policy in the Twentieth Century

Edited by Marian van der Klein, Rebecca Jo Plant, Nichole Sanders and Lori R. Weintrob

282 pages, 4 tables, bibliog., index

ISBN  978-0-85745-466-9 $135.00/£99.00 / Hb / Published (April 2012)

ISBN  978-1-78238-680-3 $34.95/£27.95 / Pb / Published (November 2014)

eISBN 978-0-85745-467-6 eBook

View CartYour country: - edit Request a Review or Examination Copy (in Digital Format)Recommend to your LibraryAvailable in GOBI®


A welcome addition to the literature on gender and social policy, this anthology addresses critical issues regarding women and the welfare state. Recognizing that maternalism is more diverse and nuanced than the simplification initially posed as a critique of the paternalist welfare state, the editors explore ways in which women's circumstances varied globally during the 20th century through chapters on the US, France, Fascist Italy, the Netherlands, Soviet-era Ukraine, Canada, Brazil, Argentina, and Mexico…Highly Recommended.”  ·  Choice

“One of the most striking features of this excellent collection of essays is thedurability of maternalism – as an ideology, a political strategy and as a practice of social policy and legislation. This anthology revisits and also updates the rich scholarship on the influence of maternalism on welfare and social policy, which was produced mainly during the early 1990s.”  ·  Gender & History


Beginning in the late 19th century, competing ideas about motherhood had a profound impact on the development and implementation of social welfare policies. Calls for programmes aimed at assisting and directing mothers emanated from all quarters of the globe, advanced by states and voluntary organizations, liberals and conservatives, feminists and anti-feminists – a phenomenon that scholars have since termed ‘maternalism’. This volume reassesses maternalism by providing critical reflections on prior usages of the concept, and by expanding its meaning to encompass geographical areas, political regimes and cultural concerns that scholars have rarely addressed. From Argentina, Brazil and Mexico City to France, Italy, the Netherlands, the Soviet Ukraine, the United States and Canada, these case studies offer fresh theoretical and historical perspectives within a transnational and comparative framework. As a whole, the volume demonstrates how maternalist ideologies have been employed by state actors, reformers and poor clients, with myriad political and social ramifications.

Marian van der Klein is Senior Researcher at the Verwey-Jonker Institute. Her historical research focuses on gender, social history and welfare states, especially the impact of social policy on the socioeconomic position of women.

Rebecca Jo Plant is Associate Professor of History at the University of California, San Diego, and the author of Mom: The Transformation of Motherhood in Modern America (2010).

Nichole Sanders is Associate Professor of History at Lynchburg College in Virginia. She recently published Gender and Welfare in Mexico: The Consolidation of a Postrevolutionary State (2011).

Lori R. Weintrob is Professor of History at Wagner College in New York City. Her research focuses on immigration, gender and public policy in France and the United States.

Subject: History: 20th Century to PresentGender Studies and SexualitySociology


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