From Subject to Citizenoffers an original account of the Second Empire (1852-1870) as a turning point in modern French political culture: a period in which thinkers of all political persuasions combined forces to create the participatory democracy alive in France today. Here Sudhir Hazareesingh probes beyond well-known features of the Second Empire, its centralized government and authoritarianism, and reveals the political, social, and cultural advances that enabled publicists to engage an increasingly educated public on issues of political order and good citizenship. He portrays the 1860s in particular as a remarkably intellectual decade during which Bonapartists, legitimists, liberals, and republicans applied their ideologies to the pressing problem of decentralization. Ideals such as communal freedom and civic cohesion rapidly assumed concrete and lasting meaning for many French people as their country entered the age of nationalism.
With the restoration of universal suffrage for men in 1851, constitutionalist political ideas and values could no longer be expressed within the narrow confines of the Parisian elite. Tracing these ideas through the books, pamphlets, articles, speeches, and memoirs of the period, Hazareesingh examines a discourse that connects the central state and local political life. In a striking reappraisal of the historical roots of current French democracy, he ultimately shows how the French constructed an ideal of citizenship that was "local in form but national in substance."
Originally published in 1998.
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