At the Margins of the Welfare State. Changing Patterns of including and excluding the »deviant« poor in Europe 1870-1933
The Collaborative Research Centre »Strangers and Poor People: Changing Patterns of Inclusion and Exclusion from Classical Antiquity to the Present Day (SFB 600)« at the University of Trier focuses its research on the modes of interaction with strangers and the poor developed by different societies from antiquity to the 20th century. The conceptual pair “inclusion/exclusion” provides the tool for analysing the ambivalence and dynamics of discourses and social practices when dealing with these two groups.
Using this analytical framework the conference will ask if and to what extent the emergence of modern welfare states since the late 19th century changed the perception, representation and treatment of the »deviant« poor. The new welfare states offered greater opportunities for inclusion but at the same time they increased the pressure to conform. As a result the »old« demarcations of normal and deviant behaviour changed or were more clearly defined, and new demarcations of »deviance« emerged. At the same time welfare states developed mechanisms for forced inclusion which might, at first glance, seem like institutions of exclusion but aimed, in fact, at normalising the »deviant« and therefore at re-including the socially marginalised: psychiatry, workhouses, TB-sanatoria, inebriates reformatories and industrial schools can serve as examples. These institutions and their inner structures exemplify disparate trends: on the one hand we can observe enthusiasm for reform, scientific faith in progress, and endeavours to humanise social policies, while on the other there were disciplinary measures and pessimistic theories of degeneration.
The conference aims at developing a European perspective on the relationship between poverty and »deviance« by analyzing expert discourses, administrative practices, welfare management and representations in the mass-media. Did criminology, psychiatry, poor relief administrations, charities and publicists negotiate this relationship and if so, how? Equally important to us, however, are the »deviant« poor themselves. What experiences did these people voice in autobiographies, letters or other testimonials? How did those affected perceive their »deviancy« and their treatment and what kind of counter-narratives did they develop?
The 'margins' of the welfare state can also be understood as geographical 'margins'. Therefore, contributions on the economically 'backward' and peripheral parts of Europe are especially welcome.
Those interested in participating should submit the title and a short abstract (max. 400 words) of their paper, a brief CV and their institutional affiliation or place of residence by 30 September 2009. The conference presentation should not exceed 25 minutes.
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