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This research paper deals with welfare work in four industrializing countries, Great Britain, the USA, Germany and France, in the half century of flowering enlightened paternalistic capitalism between 1880 and 1930. Welfare work in this context is defined as, sometimes overly, paternalistic labour policy of enlightened entrepreneurs often encompassing workman’s housing programs, pensions, saving programs, educational programs, sports facilities, medical services, worker participation, generous remuneration forms, and shorter working times. The question is raised if nowadays flex-capitalism in the context of shrinking collective welfare states can learn lessons from past experience with welfare work. By redefining paternalistic welfare work in modernistic terms as well as by reweighting company, personal and state responsibilities a new future-proof trade-off as regards welfare work might be realised.


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de Gier, E. (2014, November). Avant-garde welfare capitalism: Corporate welfare work and enlightened capitalism in Great Britain, the US, Germany and France (1880-1930) [Electronic version]. Paper presented at the international conference "Social boundaries of work. Changes in the sphere of work in the 21st century capitalism", Wrocław University, Poland.