Conceptual Modalities of Social Classifications in Eighteenth-century France: Reasoning on a Natural Order or Observing Individuals
Title: Conceptual Modalities of Social Classifications in Eighteenth-century France: Reasoning on a Natural Order or Observing Individuals
Author: COHEN, Deborah
Publisher: European University Institute
Series/Report no.: EUI MWP; 2007/07
This article aims to measure the transition from a theological way of classifying to the initiation of political thinking in an aristocratic and well-read bourgeois milieu. The shift is from an essentialist conceptualization of social identities (where qualities of the parts were logically deduced from a postulated natural and divine quality of the whole) to an anxious bewilderment in the face of individual cases which did not fit into the old classifications. The analysis relies mostly on a comparison between two academic competitions (Dijon in 1754 and Berlin in 1780) but checks for possible generalization by using examples from the use of categories by the judiciary and an inquiry into a new literary trend patronized by the salons in the 1770’s.
Subject: Social classifications; Enlightenment; Aristocracy; Poor; Individuals; Academies; France
Type of Access: openAccess