Skip to content
Register Sign in Wishlist

The First Modern Risk
Workplace Accidents and the Origins of European Social States

$99.99 (C)

Part of Studies in Legal History

  • Date Published: June 2018
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781108426503

$ 99.99 (C)

Add to cart Add to wishlist

Other available formats:

Looking for an examination copy?

If you are interested in the title for your course we can consider offering an examination copy. To register your interest please contact providing details of the course you are teaching.

Product filter button
About the Authors
  • During the late nineteenth century, many countries across Europe adopted national legislation that required employers to compensate workers injured or killed in accidents at work. These laws suggested that the risk of accidents was inherent to work and not due to individual negligence. By focusing on Britain, Germany, and Italy during this time, Julia Moses demonstrates how these laws reflected a major transformation in thinking about the nature of individual responsibility and social risk. The First Modern Risk illuminates the implications of this conceptual revolution for the role of the state in managing problems of everyday life, transforming understandings about both the obligations and rights of individuals. Drawing on a wide array of disciplines including law, history, and politics, Moses offers a fascinating transnational view of a pivotal moment in the evolution of the welfare state.

    • Offers a pan-European history of the welfare state, integrating legal, intellectual, political, and social history
    • Connects history with scholarship on the welfare state in the social sciences
    • Places risk at the core of our understanding of social policy, for readers interested in the ideas and assumptions behind social policy
    Read more

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Based on detailed work in three countries and languages, this book looks broadly and comparatively at how governments dealt with workplace accidents in the nineteenth century, one of industrialization’s earliest dilemmas. With both empirical substance and theoretical sophistication, it also illuminates the more general problem of the contemporary state first undertaking what is now its foremost task, managing modernity’s ever-growing risks.' Peter Baldwin, University of California, Los Angeles

    'In this masterful and path breaking study, Moses identifies the genealogical origins of European social states in the neglected sphere of workplace accidents and the social policies that governments adopted to address what they came to recognize as the 'first modern risk'. Weaving together a stunning array of research - from law and moral philosophy to state theory and citizenship studies - this book charts the shifting responsibility for the inevitable perils of industrial capitalism, from the personal agency of freedom of contract to state management of an increasingly social distribution of risk. This is a book as timely as it is profound. As neoliberalism’s unremitting assaults on today's social states have given rise to brutalizing levels of inequality, nothing could be more urgent than our learning from Moses’ deep analysis of the social and political conditions that once created and sustained national commitments to egalitarian social rights.' Margaret Somers, University of Michigan

    'The emergence of the European social state, which exemplifies much of the European Union, has roots in workplace accidents and the risks not only to individuals but to the larger community. In an industrializing society, is an individual solely responsible for mitigating risks of the work place? Does the employer have a role? What is the role of the state? Using a wide range of British, German, and Italian primary and secondary sources, and specifically focused on developments of the second half of the 19th century through the 1920s, this well-documented monograph uses a comparative approach to trace the development of the concept of risk and its connection to the social state, one that now provides an insurance-based social safety net. The argument is sound and carefully argued. Summing Up: Recommended.' T. F. Armstrong, Choice

    See more reviews

    Customer reviews

    Not yet reviewed

    Be the first to review

    Review was not posted due to profanity


    , create a review

    (If you're not , sign out)

    Please enter the right captcha value
    Please enter a star rating.
    Your review must be a minimum of 12 words.

    How do you rate this item?


    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2018
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781108426503
    • length: 332 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 158 x 23 mm
    • weight: 0.62kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    List of figures
    List of tables
    1. Accidents, freedom and modernity in the nineteenth century
    2. Occupational risk, work and the nation state
    3. Spreading risk, forging solidarity
    4. Taking risks and dismissing fate
    5. Workers, citizens and the state
    6. Risk societies as 'people's communities'

  • Author

    Julia Moses, University of Sheffield
    Julia Moses is Senior Lecturer in Modern History at the University of Sheffield, co-founder and co-chair of the Risk, Policy and Law Research Group at Sheffield's Centre for Medical Humanities, and currently Marie Curie Fellow in Sociology at the Georg-August-Universität Göttingen, Germany. Her previous publications include The Impact of Ideas on Legal Development (with Michael Lobban; 2012) and Marriage, Law and Modernity: Global Histories (2017).

Sign In

Please sign in to access your account


Not already registered? Create an account now. ×

Sorry, this resource is locked

Please register or sign in to request access. If you are having problems accessing these resources please email

Register Sign in
Please note that this file is password protected. You will be asked to input your password on the next screen.

» Proceed

You are now leaving the Cambridge University Press website. Your eBook purchase and download will be completed by our partner Please see the permission section of the catalogue page for details of the print & copy limits on our eBooks.

Continue ×

Continue ×

Continue ×

Find content that relates to you

Join us online

This site uses cookies to improve your experience. Read more Close

Are you sure you want to delete your account?

This cannot be undone.


Thank you for your feedback which will help us improve our service.

If you requested a response, we will make sure to get back to you shortly.

Please fill in the required fields in your feedback submission.