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Vital MinimumNeed, Science, and Politics in Modern France$
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Dana Simmons

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780226251561

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2016

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226251738.001.0001

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Family, Race, Type

Family, Race, Type

(p.55) Chapter 4 Family, Race, Type
Vital Minimum

Dana Simmons

University of Chicago Press

This chapter traces the origins of the nineteenth-century social survey, in a collision of biology and politics. Social surveys drew from the logics of biology, anthropological medicine, economic theory, scientific exploration, and worker activism. Common to all of those fields was an obsession with measuring and categorizing human needs. Georges Cuvier and Jean Baptiste Lamarck defined modern zoology in a debate over the role of needs in the animal economy. The zoological conflict then profoundly influenced theories of welfare and need. Zoologists and social reformers alike asked whether needs were fixed or mutable. Conservative social reformers Joseph de Gérando and Frédéric Le Play divided the French popuation into fixed socio-medical, then racial, types. Socialists and workers’ journals argued for a statistical index that could track ever-expanding needs. Need appeared as a foundational category for class politics and for the natural and human sciences.

Keywords:   social survey, family, race, family budget, anthropology, zoology, social statistics, sociology, charity

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