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Taming the Beast: The Long and Hard Road to the Christian Social Conference of 1952

Rolf van der Woude


During the second half of the nineteenth century, the Netherlands was confronted with the social and political integration of the working and middle classes. The contribution of Protestantism to the solution has been heavily debated. An ongoing question has been how the over-weaned, conservative, Christian social thought that always rejected a large government role in society had, after World War II, so quickly moved to support expanding the welfare state. New investigation shows that the answer is found by supplementing the existing portrait at two points. First, alongside the Kuyperian movement there already existed a social tradition far less identifiable that was rooted in the Dutch Reformed Church. Although much less visible in the social debate, it nonetheless exerted significant influence on the settlement of the social question. Second, before World War II, a decisive reversal had occurred in the acceptance of a welfare state by younger people from both traditions so that the tipping point came before 1940.

Rolf van der Woude, "Taming the Beast: The Long and Hard Road to the Christian Social Conference of 1952," Journal of Markets & Morality 14, no. 2 (Fall 2011): 419-444

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