By Bolton Charles Knowles 1867-1950
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Additional info for American Library History
European civil societies metamorphosed yet once more in the closing decades of the century, and this transformation was in many ways the most portentous. Of primordial importance was the spreading mobilization of the countryside. In France, associations of a republican hue had first made inroads into rural areas in the era of the 1848 revolution, gains expanded and then consolidated in the 1860s and 1870s. In most other European states, however, apart from agricultural societies composed of wealthy landowners, the countryside had remained terra incognita to associational activism.
7 And just because associational activity often flourished nonetheless, that did not mean that every association was devoted to liberal or democratic ends. 8 In a word, civil society flourished, but democratic institutions much less so. The question then becomes, and it runs throughout this book, Why did democratic institutions take root in certain locales and not others? The essays below point to three crucial variables. 9 Great Britain was an early urbanizer and did not experience the problem in acute form.
In the late twentieth-century West, celebrations of society, of the self-reliance and creative potential of citizen activism, have time and again provided the rhetorical cover for assaults on the welfare state. And just how self-reliant and creative is civil society anyhow? Skocpol advances the claim that it is the state which first and foremost structures the terrain of associational life. Associational activity may be inspired from above in the interests of policy implementation. Even initiatives from below often have state-centered goals, aiming to influence policy or gain access to the goods government has to offer.
American Library History by Bolton Charles Knowles 1867-1950