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Democracy, Capitalism, and the Welfare StateDebating Social Order in Postwar West Germany, 1949-1989$
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Peter C. Caldwell

Print publication date: 2019

Print ISBN-13: 9780198833819

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: March 2019

DOI: 10.1093/oso/9780198833819.001.0001

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Rights, Citizenship, and Society

Rights, Citizenship, and Society

The Social Rechtsstaat

(p.45) 2 Rights, Citizenship, and Society
Democracy, Capitalism, and the Welfare State

Peter C. Caldwell

Oxford University Press

The social rule of law, or social Rechtsstaat, was a second key term used in the first decade of the Federal Republic of Germany to justify extensive state interventions into society, so long as they preserved individual freedoms. Individual freedoms—such as the right to free speech, the right to enter and exit contracts, and the right to own property—required some kind of social supplement to ensure real freedom, or so the term suggested. By cementing this principle in the Basic Law, the founders opened up a debate about the justification, nature, and extent of the welfare state. Some, like Ernst Forsthoff, rejected the entire discussion as non-sensical; others, like Wolfgang Abendroth, viewed the constitutional concept as a spur to social reform. While this debate took place among lawyers, its real significance lay in the way it articulated the relationship between social policy and democracy.

Keywords:   Social Rule of Law, Social Rights, Daseinsvorsorge, Socialization, constitutionalism and the welfare state, social citizenship, Ernst Forsthoff, Wolfgang Abendroth, democracy and bureaucracy, Constitutional Court

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