2004
Volume 127, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 0040-7518
  • E-ISSN: 2352-1163

Abstract

The many forms of sociability that flourished during the eighteenth century have long been viewed as vehicles of the Enlightenment. Not only were societies, clubs, and lodges permeated by a spirit of egalitarianism, secularism, and religious tolerance, they were also essential factors in the dissemination of knowledge and new ideas. Additionally, sociability has been associated with the rise of the public sphere and civil society, as various societies provided important platforms for the new bourgeois public to discuss and address the issues of the day. However, recent research has challenged these views. Historians are increasingly finding that many societies were permeable to a variety of worldviews and practices, not all of which can be meaningfully associated with the Enlightenment. New insights also suggest the importance of local restrictions and social conventions influencing many societies, further complicating the traditional understanding of the progressive, enlightened nature of sociability during this period. At the same time, sociability remains an important object of research in its own right, as well as an indispensible window onto an ever increasing variety of historical phenomena. This article explores the ways in which recent research has transformed our understanding of sociability and its place in the Enlightenment.

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2014-06-01
2021-12-07
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  • Article Type: Research Article
Keyword(s): civil society; Enlightenment; freemasonry; public sphere; sociability
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