The Search for Social Peace

Reform Legislation in France, 1890-1914

By Judith F. Stone

Subjects: French Studies
Series: SUNY series in European Social History
Paperback : 9780887060236, 260 pages, August 1985
Hardcover : 9780887060229, 260 pages, August 1985

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Table of contents



1. The "Social Question"

2. The Ideologies of Social Reform

3. Reform Politics of the 1890s: Republicans in Conflict

4. Reform Politics, 1900-1914: The Radicals Triumphant

5. The Legislation of Social Reform: Insurance

6. The Legislation of Social Reform: Regulation

Conclusion: The Limits of Social Reform




During the last one hundred years, programmatic social reform legislation has increasingly been accepted as an essential economic, social and political component of advanced capitalist nations. The Search for Social Peace investigates the reform movement in France—from its origins in the 1890s until the First World War—and details the struggle to end class conflict and achieve social peace. Who the reformers were, what they argued and how successful they were in fulfilling their promises are among the questions answered in The Search for Social Peace.

Facing the pressures of an industrializing economy and the rise of an active, enfranchised working class, French reformers coalesced into a parliamentary force which, by 1910, could claim passage of a number of major reform laws. Judith Stone examines the results of this reform effort and demonstrates why legislation failed to alter deeply entrenched patterns in labor relations. Her study deepens our understanding of the social and political stalemate during the Third Republic.

Social legislation, its cost and impact on the labor market and labor relations, is again the subject of intense debate. The current political climate makes all the more relevant the earlier reform effort, its supporters, their goals, their opponents—all of which are covered in this lucid work.

Judith F. Stone is Visiting Assistant Professor of History at Reed College.