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The Politics of Description: Egalitarianism and Radical Rhetoric in Pre-Revolutionary Europe, Sweden 1769-1772

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This article recovers and analyses some of the ways in which 'society' in the latter half of the eighteenth century was re-described by Swedish political writers attempting to reform current ways of organizing social and political space. The article shows how a radical language of politics contributed to the formation of a new collective identity for commoners. By concentrating on changing social descriptions -- specifically the challenges that were posed to conventional ways of understanding and representing society -- two relationships of central importance to understanding the emergence of modern political thought and social organization are analysed: firstly, the relationship between political rhetoric in the construction of new collective identities and, secondly, the relationship between political struggle and the media, or public sphere. Moreover, the article contributes to a history of early European radical political thought, focusing on ideological developments that took place before the French Revolution and on the so- called margins of Europe.
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Keywords: Europe; Sweden; collective identity; commoners; egalitarianism; eighteenth-century; equality; estates; media; nobility; pamphlets; periodicals; political order; political thought; public sphere; radicalism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Dept. of Political Science, Stockholm University, Stockholm 106 91, Sweden., Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2006-01-01

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