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Vital Minimum – Need, Science, and Politics in Modern France - Chicago Scholarship Online
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Vital Minimum: Need, Science, and Politics in Modern France

Dana Simmons


This book is about the science and politics of human needs. Since the French Revolution, human needs have served to legitimize or to challenge modern forms of social organization. The precept that every human being deserves a minimal standard of living is a key premise of human rights, state welfare and international development aid. But needs also serve to reinforce social difference. The so-called “nature” of sex or race, one group’s inferior needs, justified lower wages and nutritional standards for women and colonial populations. Economies of need appeared to govern biological and social p ... More

Keywords: need consumption, social science, welfare, standards of living, minimum wage, vital minimum, France

Bibliographic Information

Print publication date: 2015 Print ISBN-13: 9780226251561
Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016 DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226251738.001.0001


Affiliations are at time of print publication.

Dana Simmons, author