“Man is Born for Society”: Confraternities and Civil Society in Eighteenth-Century Paris and Milan

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“Civil society,” in the definition proposed in the introduction to this special issue, was not solely a product of the Enlightenment or of elite sociability. This article focuses on eighteenth-century confraternities in Paris and Milan to argue that these religious associations fostered the kinds of values and behaviors that most writers associate with the formation of civil society: cooperation, charity, a sense of responsibility, and peaceful interaction both among the members and between them and others in society. Many of them encouraged a culture of independence and a sense of rights among their members. They also offered experience of organization to a very large number of men and a smaller number of women. They thus contributed to the formation of eighteenth-century “civil society.”
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)103-119
Number of pages17
JournalSocial Science History
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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