Catholicism and the Welfare State in Secular France

Continuities and Changes in the Catholic Mobilizations in the Social Policy Domain (1940-2017)

Fabio Bolzonar (Author),

Series: KADOC-Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 31

Category: History, History 1800-present, Religion

Language: English

ISBN: 9789462703889

Publication date: September 28, 2023

€45.00 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 224

Size: 238 x 170 x 15 mm

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Stock item: 156628

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Series: KADOC-Studies on Religion, Culture and Society 31

Category: History, History 1800-present, Religion

Language: English

DOI: 10.11116/9789461665331

ISBN: 9789461665331

Publication date: September 28, 2023

€38.00 (including 6% VAT)

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Number of pages: 224

Guaranteed Peer Reviewed Content


Secular France and the changing influence of Catholicism.

Even though the policy impact of Catholicism has increasingly been acknowledged, existing scholarship lacks a coherent view on its changing influence over time and in different political contexts. In this book, Fabio Bolzonar investigates the influence of Catholicism on developments in French social protection from World War II to the mid-2010s. He discusses the factors that have favoured or inhibited it and explores the hybridization between Catholic values and secular principles in the social engagement of Catholic actors in secular France. By doing so, this multidisciplinary study integrates current scholarship, which has given limited attention to the changing patterns of Catholic involvement in the social policy domain over a long period of time, and the renewed influence of Catholic values in secularized societies. Catholic mobilization has relocated from the political to the civil society sphere, making voluntary organizations and social movements, rather than political parties, the main channels for defending Catholic values in secular France. Rather than marginalizing Catholicism, this process has opened up new opportunities for Catholic actors and values to play a significant role in society and politics. Bolzonar identifies two divergent scenarios that define Catholic social engagement in contemporary France: either the strengthening of new forms of institutional collaboration between Catholic-inspired philanthropic organizations and public administrations in the interest of socially vulnerable citizens, or the emergence of new ideological conflicts on gender- and sexuality-related issues.

This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).



  1. Introduction
    Catholicism and the Welfare State: Beyond Christian Democracy
    Studying the Role of Catholicism in Social Policy Developments
    Outline of the Book

  2. Catholicism and the Welfare State in a Reactionary Regime (1940-1944)
    Catholicism and Politics in Vichy France
    Social Policies during the Vichy Regime
    The Expansion of Social Protection
    The Reorganization of Public Hospitals
    An Authoritarian Corporatist Reform 45 A Legacy for Post-war Reformers

  3. Foundation and Consolidation of a Christian Democratic Welfare State (1944-1959)
    The Roots of Christian Democratic Social Reformism
    Foundation and Development of a Christian Democratic Welfare State
    The New Institutional Organization of Social Security
    Family Policies
    Housing Policies
    A Christian Democratic Welfare State?

  4. Catholicism in the Years of Gaullism and Mitterrandism (1959-1995)
    The Social Reforms of Gaullist and Right-wing Governments
    The Reform of 1967 78 Family Policies under the Right in Power
    Moral Liberalization of Social Legislation
    Decline of Family Benefits
    Support for Larger Families
    Support for Working Mothers
    The Mitterrand Years 88 Renovating the Démocratie Sociale
    Modernizing Family Policies
    Moral Liberalization of Family Legislation
    Increasing Family Benefits
    Support for Smaller Families
    Promotion of Work-family Reconciliation Policies
    Great Disillusions?


  1. A Period of Changes
    Catholicism in Contemporary France: Some Observations
    Weakening Values?
    A Church in Decline?
    Do Catholic Values Still Play a Role in French Politics?
    Catholicism and Civil Society
    Entering a Post-secular Era: Secularization, Civic Engagement, and New Social Mobilization

  2. Social Catholicism in an Age of Permanent Austerity
    Housing Policies and Social Catholicism
    Early and Contradictory Developments
    Increasing Activism
    Toward a New Alliance?
    Evaluating Values in Action

  3. New Ideological Conflicts?
    Against Same-sex Marriage
    Troubles in the Church
    The Political Support for the Anti-gay Marriage Campaign
    The Opposition of Civil Society
    Influence on Policy Outcomes
    Abortion: A Still Open Question
    New Ideological Conflicts?

  4. A Contribution to a Theory on the Mobilization of Catholicism in Secular Societies
    Continuities and Changes in a Long Story
    A Way Ahead
    Concluding Remarks

Index of Persons

Fabio BolzonarORCID icon

Fabio Bolzonar holds a PhD from the University of Cambridge. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow of the Japan Society for the Promotion of Science and a part-time lecturer at Waseda University, as well as a scientific collaborator at the Centre d’Étude de la Vie Politique at the Université Libre de Bruxelles.

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