This chapter examines the rise of social welfare policies in Russia and the Soviet Union, with particular emphasis on the new forms of social science knowledge that led reformers to reconceptualize the population as a social entity to be rationally managed. It first traces the origins of social welfare concerns and policies more generally, focusing on cameralism in early modern Europe and developments in the social sciences in the nineteenth century. It then considers the link between welfare and warfare, along with the factors that shaped the Soviet welfare state. It also explains how the rise of mass warfare influenced state leaders to intervene more actively in the newly constituted social realm before concluding with a discussion of the ways that Soviet state interventionist practices addressed the “social question” that emerged in nineteenth-century Europe.
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