The Social Origins of the Welfare State traces the evolution of the first universal laws for Québec families, passed during the Second World War. In this translation of her award-winning Aux origines sociales de l´État-providence, Dominique Marshall examines the connections between political initiatives and Québécois families, in particular the way family allowances and compulsory schooling primarily benefited teenage boys who worked on family farms and girls who stayed home to help with domestic labour. She demonstrates that, while the promises of a minimum of welfare and education for all were by no means completely fulfilled, the laws helped to uncover the existence of deep family poverty. Further, by exposing the problem of unequal access of children of different classes to schooling, these programs paved the way for education and funding reforms of the next generation. Another consequence was that in their equal treatment of both genders, the laws fostered the more egalitarian language of the war, which faded from other sectors of society, possibly laying groundwork for feminist claims of future decades.
The way in which the poorest families influenced the creation of public, educational, and welfare institutions is a dimension of the welfare state unexamined until this book. At a time when the very idea of a universal welfare state is questioned, The Social Origins of the Welfare State considers the fundamental reasons behind its creation and brings to light new perspectives on its future.
- Winner, Prix Jean-Charles-Falardeau, Canadian Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences 1998
- Commended, Sir John A. Macdonald Prize for best book in Canadian history, Canadian Historical Association 1999
``It is worthwhile devoting effort to studying the materials and ideas Marshall presents, since her work sheds light on matters of interest today—federal-provincial relations, poverty, state surveillance, and agency of individuals and professionals. ... The original version won the 1998–1999 Prix Jean-Charles-Falardeau as the best French-language book in the social sciences. Its publication in English is welcome and important, since Marshall provides a model of how to research and interpret social policy formation, organization, and effects in a social and political context. ''- Paul Gingrich, Histoire sociale–Social History, Vol. XLI, #81, May 2008
``At a time when the very idea of a universal welfare state is questioned, The Social Origins of the Welfare State considers the fundamental reasons behind its creation and brings to light new perspectives on its future. ''- Adolescence, Vol. 43, No. 169, Spring 2008
``The Social Origins of the Welfare State provides a richly detailed historical analysis of the implementation of some of Canada's most important social programs of [the 1940s]. ... This book is an English translation of the 1997 prize-winning publicaiton, Aux origines sociales de l'Etat-providence, a monograph [that] . .. won tremendous acclaim for being innovative in tracing the political and ideological revolutions in social thinking that gave rise to the welfare state and a collective consciousness that poverty was the business of bureaucrats and the state. ... Shaped as it was by 1980s and 1990s concerns over the battering of the welfare state at the hands of deficit-obsessed governments, this book draws our attention to the political debates and actors that shaped early thinking on such issues as universality and children's rights. While compulsory schooling remains firmly entrenched for teenagers, mid-twentieth century arguments favoring accessibility-- low or no tuition fees--in higher education were abandoned by governments in the last ten years and `baby boomers,' as Family Allowance came to be called, withered in 1992 into a `non-universal tax credit. ' Given the recent political hostility to welfare programs, returning to an era when state responsibility for the welfare of its citizens was not a disparaged idea, is edifying. ... [This book also] shows how working-class parents were asked to conform to an official sense of normalcy in exchange for new social benefits for their children. ... [O]ne could argue, [this] was a work of family history but it invites us today to think about the location of children's history relative to the histories of the family, the state, and human rights. ''- Tamara Myers, H-Childhood, October 2007
``While Marshall's orientation is primarily political, her profound knowledge of other historical subfields such as family history, result in a rich, sophisticated and contextualized analysis. Even if contemporary policy makers failed to notice, Marshall never treates families as a unit with undifferentiated share interests for all family members. After nearly ten years from its initial publication the book remains the standard account. ... While its explanation of policy narrative is useful, the book's exploration of elite, political and popular responses to compulsory schooling and family allowances continues to be particularly compelling and original. .. Her concurrent examination of both a federal and provincial policy remains utterly unique in Quebec scholarship and is a model for others to follow. English-language readers are fortunate to have this important book finally made available to them in a readable translation by Nicola Doone Danby. ''- Suzanne Morton, Journal of Social History, Vol. 42, No. 13, Fall 2008