International Encyclopedia of Civil Society

2010 Edition
| Editors: Helmut K. Anheier, Stefan Toepler

Civil Society History V: 19th Century

  • Arnd Bauerkämper
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-0-387-93996-4_529

Main Characteristics of the Period

In the late eighteenth century, monarchical absolutism was increasingly questioned and under attack. As Enlightenment spread from its first strongholds in France and Britain to most regions of Europe, a new intelligentsia emerged. Its members assembled in clubs and associations, which thus became pillars of the nascent civil society. It was based on deliberation in literary circles and increasingly public discourses that challenged the claims of political rulers to initiate and control discussions “from above.” At the same time, the Freemasons, which had originated in England in the early eighteenth century, expanded considerably throughout Europe. Contrary to clubs and learned societies, they attempted to evade political supervision by meeting secretly. Thus, Freemasons entertained an exclusive rather than public discourse (Hoffmann, 2001: 267). Industrialization, too, gradually undermined the absolutist state. Beyond the strata of artisans and...

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References/Further Readings

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC 2010

Authors and Affiliations

  • Arnd Bauerkämper
    • 1
  1. 1.Freie Universität BerlinKoserstr. 20Germany