Long-term views of the “social question” in Germany during the 19th and 20th century
Purpose – The purpose of this paper is to focus on links between former “Heilbronn Symposia” on social, economic and political changes, and evolutionary concepts of the nineteenth and early twentieth century to solve the “Social Question” (“S. Qu.”) in Germany. Design/methodology/approach – The approach is based on references to authors of German historical schools, social policy, labor economics and liberal economic policy. The paper supplies a literature review in the area of social policy. It starts from different earlier definitions of the S. Qu. An overview is provided of selected studies of formerly leading German authors, who basically investigated economic and social policies conditioned by the existing economic system. The contents demonstrate different perspectives of the considered authors: Wilhelm Roscher's long-term, even “modern” view of the development of property and wealth; Gustav Schmoller's broad view of economic and social development, demanding a strong state, efficient organizations of entrepreneurs and trade unions; Lujo Brentano's demand of basic institutional changes concerning labor markets and social security by trade unions; authors of different social-economic studies written at the twentieth century, like Leopold von Wiese, Walter Eucken, Gerhard Weisser and Hans Peter Widmaier. Findings – The findings point out: not all of the considered authors applied the same long-term view; all of the authors demonstrated negative social effects of industrialization; authors of the twentieth century pointed out a broader concern of S. Qu. and social policy than former authors. Research limitations/implications – Areas of future research include: a broadening perspective of long-term studies, and an increasing demand for analyses of social disturbances and of effects of social policy on the distribution of life conditions. Originality/value – The comparison of selected authors focusing on their views of the S. Qu. in Germany during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries allows for special conclusions related to the causes, performance and measures to solve or at least reduce the burden of the S. Qu. in the considered economy.
Economic history, Economic theory, Germany, Social economics, Social policy
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