Austrian History Yearbook

"As Susan Zimmermann makes clear in the Introduction, “need-related policies” in Hungary during Habsburg rule 'simultaneously entailed strategies of inclusion and exclusion'. The various forms of social provision pursued on a variety of levels thus reflected not simply a correspondence between need and welfare, but also officials’ repression and control of, or ignorance toward, poverty. Zimmermann is the first historian stressing to this degree the close relationship between the poverty policy exercised as public poor relief and a gradually stronger policy of social control or even state repression. The most elaborate and conceptually and empirically plausible parts of the book are the ones in which the author discusses the process of establishing a compulsory social insurance system, including health insurance (1891) and then accident insurance (1907). Both of these were available exclusively to industrial laborers. These steps were taken, Zimmermann maintains, in order to strengthen the internal integration of Hungarian society. The most important new findings in Zimmermann’s book lie in the detailed and careful description of the organizational makeup and the daily operation of the new compulsory social insurance system set up in the 1900s. Zimmermann makes extensive use of primary sources, although she favors published materials (reports from state, charities and other organizations, laws, and additional local materials). Archival sources are also used in a few cases. Overall, Susan Zimmermann’s book reconstructs the unique path that fin-de-siècle Hungary took in slowly becoming a welfare state and greatly helps us to reconsider the main trajectory of Hungary’s history"
Reviewed book: 
Susan Zimmermann
$69.00 / €56.00 / £50.00
Kindle edition is available through Amazon