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Les Signes du Politique

Language and Sociability in France from the Fourteenth to the Nineteenth Century

Jacques Guilhaumou

This article describes the social and linguistic processes underlying the formation of political language in France from the end of the Middle Ages to the nineteenth century. The author emphasizes the close relationship between the evolution of political language, as it can be traced through the many editions of dictionnaires and grammaires, and novel forms of sociability, from the medieval notion of friendship to revolutionary civism. The eighteenth century is considered a crucial moment in this process, given that during that period the thinkers of the Lumières, in their effort to harness civil society through language, forged the notion of a space of universal communication among men as a precondition for the invention of a political language specific to contemporary democracy.

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Nadia Urbinati

This article is an exercise in the interpretation of ordinary political language on the status of democracy. It is motivated by the desire to test how our theories of democracy help us make sense of what citizens think about their actual democracies

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Scandinavianism

Mapping the Rise of a New Concept

Ruth Hemstad

, not obvious, neither historically nor in a contemporary perspective. A common Scandinavian identity therefore had to be constructed. A vital part of this was the development of a pan-Scandinavian vocabulary, a cultural and political language, which was

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Heidi Hakkarainen

captured contemporary political rhetoric in print. 80 Thus, the sources analyzed suggest that, especially in 1848, humanism was re-evaluated and adopted as an ism in contemporary political language. Modern isms significantly shaped nineteenth

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Times of Democracy

The Unavoidable Democracy of Mid-Nineteenth-Century Denmark

Anne Engelst Nørgaard

absolutism fell and was replaced by the promise that there would be a constitutional monarchy, democracy remained an occasional guest in political language, not used to refer to contemporary, local phenomena. This changed in late July and August, as actors

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The Longue Durée of Empire

Toward a Comparative Semantics of a Key Concept in Modern European History

Jörn Leonhard

Against the background of a new interest in empires past and present and an inflation of the concept in modern political language and beyond, the article first looks at the use of the concept as an analytical marker in historical and current interpretations of empires. With a focus on Western European cases, the concrete semantics of empire as a key concept in modern European history is analyzed, combining a reconstruction of some diachronic trends with synchronic differentiations.

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João Feres Júnior

Not long ago, conceptual history was an approach restricted to German-speaking academic circles and to very few scholars worldwide. This situation has markedly changed in the last two decades, primarily of the appearance of research projects for studying concepts in historical perspective in other European countries — such as Finland, Netherlands, Denmark, Sweden, Italy, France, and Spain — and because of Melvin Richter’s endeavor in promoting an encounter between German Begriffsgeschichte and English speaking approaches for the historical study of political languages, discourses, and rhetoric. The History of Political and Social Concepts Group (HPSCG) is among the most significant results of these developments.

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Gregory Smulewicz-Zucker, Timo Pankakoski, Burkhard Conrad, Henrik Björck, and Bogdan C. Iacob

Samuel Moyn and Andrew Sartori, eds., Global Intellectual History (New York: Columbia University Press, 2013), 342 pp.

Stefan Breuer, Carl Schmitt im Kontext: Intellektuellenpolitik in der Weimarer Republik [Carl Schmitt in context: The politics of intellectuals in the Weimar Republic] (Berlin: Akademie Verlag, 2012), 303 pp.

Olaf Bach, Die Erfindung der Globalisierung: Entstehung und Wandel eines zeitgeschichtlichen Grundbegriffs [The invention of globalization: Emergence and transformation of a contemporary basic concept] (Frankfurt and New York: Campus Verlag, 2013), 270 pp.

Anna Friberg, Demokrati bortom politiken: En begreppshistorisk analys av demokratibegreppet inom Sveriges socialdemokratiska arbetareparti 1919–1939 [Democracy beyond politics: An analysis of the concept of democracy within the Swedish Social Democratic Party 1919–1939] (Stockholm: Bokförlaget Atlas, 2012), 314 + [37] pp.

Victor Neumann and Armin Heinen, eds., Key Concepts of Romanian History: Alternative Approaches to Socio-Political Languages (Budapest and New York: Central European University Press, 2013), 516 pp.

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Conceptual History and Politics

Is the Concept of Democracy Essentially Contested?

Oliver Hidalgo

This article surveys the history of the concept of democracy from Ancient times to the present. According to the author, the conceptual history of democracy shows that the overwhelming success of the concept is most of all due to its ability to subsume very different historical ideas and realities under its semantic field. Moreover, the historical evolution of the concept reveals that no unequivocal definition is possible because of the significant paradoxes, aporias, and contradictions it contains. These are popular sovereignty vs. representation, quality vs. quantity, liberty vs. equality, individual vs. collective, and, finally, the synchronicity between similarities and dissimilarities. The ubiquitous usage of democracy in present-day political language makes it impossible to speak of it from an external perspective. Thus, both democratic theory and practice are suffused with empirical and normative elements.

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Introduction

The Social Life of Contentious Concepts

Ronald S. Stade

.G.A. Pocock, Terence Ball, James Farr, and others are referred to as the Cambridge School, whose members study political language in historical perspective (see, e.g., Ball et al. 1989 ; on the relationship between Begriffsgeschichte and the Cambridge