Social welfare Liberalism
Dr Quine's study of the Italian welfare state between the Liberal and Fascist eras is an impressively researched, well-written and original contribution to an under-researched field. Even in Italian there are few global accounts of early Italian welfare state. In English the field is covered in general accounts of the social history of Italy or in passing in reference to the working-class movement, women's history or economic and demographic histories. Dr Quine announces that she will not produce this global history; instead she approaches the welfare state in Italy by examining how it treated unwed mothers and their children. The history of women, the family and children in Italy are now familiar to an anglophone audience, but this is the first study in English that brings these interests consistently into the context of understanding the nature of the Italian welfare state. Dr Quine is rather dismissive of the sociological model makers who study the welfare state, although perhaps she is unfair, since Esping-Andersen for the general European context, and certainly Maurizio Ferrera for the Italian, can be read with great profit by historians. Nevertheless, Dr Quine is forgiven for her historian's bewilderment at parallel sociological and political science universes. She employs a marvellous array of archival material to illustrate the plight of unwed mothers and their children in late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century Italy (State archives, Church archives, private archives, and private papers). As the historian should, she brings to life her 'case studies'. But she also does not slight a theoretical framework, which ties together the three parts of this study at its conclusion.
In the first section she examines the origins of the welfare state during the elitist Liberal regime (1862-1890). In the second section of the book she examines the reform of the charitable organisation of welfare under Crispi, the rise of the 'insurer state' under Giolitti and the Fascist 'totalitarian' welfare state under Mussolini (1890-1939). In the third part of her book, Dr Quine examines the problem of child abandonment under liberalism and fascism to highlight the continuities and changes in treatment of powerless groups by state and society.
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