Historical Social Research

45.2 - Military and Welfare State

HSR Vol. 45 (2020) No. 2: Military and Welfare State: Conscription, Military Interests, and Western Welfare States in the Age of Industrialized Mass Warfare.

Special Issue - Herbert Obinger (Ed.): Military and Welfare State: Conscription, Military Interests, and Western Welfare States in the Age of Industrialized Mass Warfare.

The emergence of the welfare state is mainly attributed to the negative social repercussions of industrialization, the related rise of the labour movement, and mass democratization. However, there is a dark but widely neglected side to the story: Governments’ ambitions for international power and influence have also played an important role in shaping public social policy. This nexus is at the heart of this special issue, which examines the impact of the military, conscription, and warfare on the development of the welfare states. Its roots can be traced back to the late 19th century, when significant advances in military technology and the spread of conscription fundamentally changed the nature and conduct of war. The resulting rise of industrialized mass warfare and increasing tensions between nation states contributed to a growing interest of policymakers and the military in social policy. Faced with concerns on the quantity and quality of the population as well as the necessity to enhance political legitimacy and to secure mass loyalty in times of war and military threat, they came to embrace sociopolitical solutions. Additionally, war and its aftershocks forced governments to provide social protection for the numerous war victims and to address the tremendous social needs created by total war.