The object of this paper is to explore the origins of nineteenth-century social reformism, which constitutes the immediate precedent of the modern welfare state and social citizenship. The rise of social reformism has usually been attributed to factors such as the economic transformation of capitalism, the design of new instruments of social and political control, the pressure of the labor movement, and the initiative of one ideological-political party or other. However, as the Spanish case shows, social reformism seems to have emerged as the outcome of the internal crisis of the modern liberal imaginary or discourse. In light of this imaginary, the persistence of social inequalities and the rise of the labor movement—the so-called social problem—appeared as evidence of the liberal regime's failure to fulfill the promise of an egalitarian, stable, and harmonious social order, as well as of an historical anomaly that needed repairing. It was this frustration of expectations with the liberal regime that led some liberals to rethink and reformulate the assumptions of classical individualism and to implement a set of social reforms as a means of solving the social problem and rectifying this historical anomaly. Thus, social reformism emerged and paved the way for the welfare state.


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pp. 1165-1184
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