The social question was a substantial aspect of the transformation of the feudal agrarian country into a modern industrial society and of the related dissolution of the patriarchal system of rule and care. Therefore, it cannot be reduced, as is often the case, to mere pauperism and the workers’ question. The social question meant something more and embraced a wide range of facets. From the Great Depression of 1873 at the latest it was apparent that the social conditions constituted a problem concerning the whole society. That means that not only the problems of industry workers, but also those of trade and small business, as well as of agriculture and of the new middle class of white-collar workers were viewed much more than before as parts of the social question. Associated with this was also the discussion on the form of social system. Although the Austrian Empire in July 1914 was still far from being a social state, major steps were taken in that direction by the legislation and government trying to carry through social theoretical postulates. In spite of the fact that their effectiveness was declining under the conditions of permanent political crisis after 1900, the legislation showed that the Austrian Empire, irrespective of the escalating nationalist disputes, was reformable. Eventually, however, all hopes placed by the governments and the forces endeavoring to preserve the state proved false. The vision of national state appeared to be much more attractive to the political protagonists as well as to the political public than the utopia of modern social state.