Course Unit Page

Academic Year 2018/2019

Learning outcomes

At the end of the course, students will have acquired the required knowledge of historical research methodology, an understanding of the connection between the history of the welfare state and the characteristics of Italy’s institutions, as well as the political and formative system of the Italian state. Students will be capable of orally expounding their evaluations and viewpoints concerning historical studies and analyses. They will be capable of employing the tools and methods acquired in the historical field to broaden their knowledge and demonstrate a high degree of critical autonomy.

Course contents

The purpose of the course is to analyze the genesis, events and evolution of the welfare state in light of recent issues arising in current debate.

Explanations and analyses of key terms and concepts will be provided to lay the foundations for critical thinking on the subject matter.

From a long-term perspective, and from a comparative analysis viewpoint, the course will look at events beginning from the birth of the modern state. These include the passage from forms of assistance, of a largely religious nature, for the needy, to nineteenth-century style philanthropism. It will conclude with an analysis of friendly societies and charity organizations, which developed with the industrial revolution in Europe, and provided assistance for workers of both sexes.

With an analysis of the diverse timelines of European states, particular attention will be given to the development of social legislation in Italy: from early laws safeguarding employment rights of the disabled, to employment rights for women and children. The course will then highlight how the two world wars impacted economic and social policy of European states, analyze the arrival of the ‘glorious’ age of the post-war years, and cover the intervening years up until the economic crisis of the early 1980s. These were years in which welfare criteria adopted until that time were reviewed and years which continue to characterize the age in which we live.

Painting a historical picture of the welfare state means painting a history of forms of assistance for the needy, welfare policies concerning old age and disability, safeguards of public health, and the family. It covers male and female workers’ employment rights, and paints a historical picture of educational systems and public schemes to ensure – from the second half of the 1800s – the most far-reaching schooling possible as a precondition for full citizenship.

N.B.: This is an upper-level history course. In order to follow the course, it is essential that students have a basic knowledge of contemporary history, from the study or consultation of suitable high school texts.


One book from the following

Fulvio Conti, Gianni Silei, Breve storia dello stato sociale, Roma, Carocci, 2013


Gerhard A. Ritter, Storia dello stato sociale, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2003 (i primi sette capitoli)

Two books from the following

  • Gianni Silei, Lo Stato Sociale in Italia. Storia e documenti, 2 voll., Manduria, Lacaita Editore, 2003 (un capitolo a scelta del primo volume e uno a scelta del secondo, con particolare attenzione ai relativi documenti).
  • Dalle società di mutuo soccorso alle conquiste del welfare state, a cura di Anna Salfi e Fiorenza Tarozzi, Roma, Ediesse, 2014.
  • William Beveridge,Alle origini del welfare state: il rapporto su assicurazioni sociali e servizi assistenziali, Milano, F. Angeli, 2010.
  • Povertà e innovazioni istituzionali in Italia. Dal Medioevo ad oggi, a cura di Vera Zamagni, Bologna, il Mulino, 2000 (6 saggi a scelta della parte quarta “L'età dello Stato sociale”).
  • Giovanna Procacci, Warfare-Welfare. Intervento dello Stato e diritti dei cittadini (1914-1918), Roma, Carocci, 2013.
  • Fabio Bertini, Il fascismo dalle assicurazioni per i lavoratori allo Stato sociale, in Lo Stato fascista, a cura di Marco Palla, Milano. La Nuova Italia, 2001, pp. 177-313.
  • Götz Aly, Lo stato sociale di Hitler, Torino, Einaudi, 2007.
  • Ignazio Masulli, Welfare State e patto sociale in Europa. Gran Bretagna, Germania, Francia, Italia 1945-198, Bologna, Clueb, 2003 (2 capitoli a scelta).
  • Welfare scandinavo, welfare italiano: il modello sociale europeo, a cura di Paolo Borioni,
    Roma, Carocci, 2005.
  • Luciano Gallino, Il lavoro non è una merce, Roma-Bari, Laterza, 2007.
  • Welfare e minori. L’Italia nel contesto europeo del Novecento, a cura di Michela Minesso, Milano, Franco Angeli 2011 (il saggio introduttivo della curatrice e otto saggi a scelta).

Teaching methods

Frontal lessons.

Office hours

See the website of Elena Musiani

See the website of Alberto Preti