This chapter explores the development of social provisioning as a matter not of right but of democratic administration in France and the United States in the nineteenth century. The authors take issue with conventional chronologies of rights development, which see civil and political rights being developed in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, with social rights appearing in the twentieth. Such categories and sequencing obscure the ways in which democratic administrations took the problem of social provisioning seriously. A history of socio-economic rights cannot be distinguished from the less formal technologies of socio-economic regulation that were an integral part of the democratic question across the nineteenth century, and, in particular, the modernisation of regulatory governance. The democratisation of administrative powers precluded any sharp distinction among the political, the social and the economic. For better and for worse, this process took place through the building, rescaling and redefining of older, pre-democratic technologies of governance in response to what were perceived as pressing public problems.
Publication Information & Recommended Citation
Sawyer, Stephen W. and William J. Novak. "Of Rights and Regulation." In Social Rights and the Politics of Obligation in History, edited by Steven L. B. Jensen and Charles Walton, 99-120. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2022.