When Infant Mortality Was Born: Dutch Preventive Child Health Care without the State, 1890–1930

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Abstract

This article investigates the emergence of Dutch preventive child health care in the first decades of the twentieth century. It shows that the rise of collective action on this terrain followed from the recognition of “infant mortality” as a public problem – a late–nineteenth century configuration that went hand in hand with the professionalisation of paediatrics. It also shows that the organisational forms that this collective action took depended on whose health was perceived to be at stake in specific articulations of the public problem of infant mortality. Finally, this article explores the motives of the Dutch state in the organisation of public health in the interbellum and queries the relationship between the state and public health more broadly. Drawing on pragmatist philosophy, we argue that states are best understood as the result of historically contingent processes that take on different forms in different times and places. Such histories enable a better view of the elements at play in the organisation of collective action and of the pivotal role played therein by the perception of public problems.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-32
Number of pages32
JournalEuropean Journal for the History of Medicine and Health
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2024

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© MARTIJN VAN DER MEER AND NOORTJE JACOBS, 2024.

Research programs

  • ESHCC HIS

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