The Gender of Welfare: Women and Social Work

David F. Crew

in Germans on Welfare

Published in print May 1998 | ISBN: 9780195053111
Published online October 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780199854479 | DOI:
The Gender of Welfare: Women and Social Work

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This chapter shows the workings of the Weimar welfare offices through representations of social work and gender distinctions. Alice Solomon and Else Wex believed that social welfare played a vital role in German's postwar recovery. In order to survive, it was believed that Germany should produce quality goods, machines, and human beings. Maternalists argued in favour of women's differences to legitimize women's exclusion from the public sphere. Women played an important role in the developing welfare state because they were regarded as more nurturing, emotional, and caring. Eventually, a number of middle-class women became professional social workers but they were seldom admitted to work in welfare bureaucracy. Trained social workers had to content themselves with poorly, insecure positions. Female social workers found it difficult to move from fieldwork to office work. There was a clear gendered distinction between masculine administration and feminine social work. However, gender was not the only division as female social workers were committed to worldviews too.

Keywords: Weimar welfare office; Alice Solomon; Else Wex; postwar recovery; Maternists

Chapter.  11314 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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