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Burgers, broeders en bazen. Het maatschappelijk middenveld van 's-Hertogenbosch in de 17de en 18de eeuw

By A. Vos


This book deals with community-building as it manifested itself in early modern 's-Hertogenbosch. Citizenship and autonomous collective organisations were phenomena that were present in all West-European cities. \ud \ud Mostly men organised themselves in among others civic militias, craft-guilds and the reformed congregation: corporations that may be considered the most important institutions of the middling sort. The members of the corporate institutions rendered their services to a great extent to the master-corporation, their domicile. On the basis of the situation in 's-Hertogenbosch the following questions will be answered: 1. how was civil society formed in Dutch cities in the seventeenth and eighteenth century; 2. in what way did the corporate institutions contribute to the local community-building; 3. how did these social connections develop in time. \ud \ud Craft-guilds, civic militias and the church created a bond between the people. By their regulations members of these corporations took up a juridically clearly defined position towards the inhabitants who did not belong, and especially towards foreigners. In the corporations individual freedom was not sought as its highest goal, but the welfare of the collective. The corporations offered their members dignity, social acceptance, participation, sociability and protection in times of distress, and they bore responsibility for the organization of the city. In this book there is definitely a place for conflict as well. A harmonious and prosperous society is in the view of communautarists like Robert Putnam's almost the natural outcome from citizens cooperating in unions. Conflict forms an essential part of the interaction between people. In spite of the conflicts corporations did not collapse. Corporations underlined the importance of the social bond for the individual as well as the community.\ud The main obstacle was religion. The policy of the town council was directed towards a fair and just treatment of the different confessions within the framework of the Capitulation Treaty of 1629 and the “laws of The Hague”. The town council was the guardian of the common interest and it corrected the corporations that were inclined to serve their own ends.\ud \ud Skipping the details Robert Putnam draws attention to the corporations in North-Italian city-states that caused civil communities to bloom. Putnam relates this to the present American society. He just like Amitai Etzioni, another important community-thinker, recognizes the importance of social connections in which members cooperate, have discussions and in doing so keep democracy alive. Communautarists pay attention to the transmitting of norms and values. Corporations in early modern times also were emphatically engaged in this. What applied to Putnam's city-states in the late Middle Ages also applies to the corporations in early modern 's-Hertogenbosch. Members of the corporations created a lively culture of discussion, a necessary condition for a community on its way to democracy. (Jonathan Israel states that 'the democratic republic [started] in the Republiek') In order to deliberate with one another it is important that the partners in deliberation trust one another. Cooperating within social connections and delegating responsibilities is only possible, as Fukuyama points out, if there is trust. Both within the guilds and the militias this trust could grow because quite soon after the Reduction of 1629 the catholic and reformed members started to work on the ecumenicity of everyday life. Schilling and Blickle both ascertain, ignoring details, that changes into a democratic direction in early modern times were initiated bottom-up in small connections. The discussion that Tönnies started on Gesellschaft und Gemeinschaft is still very much alive especially when we take into account the 'golden rules' of Etzioni. He draws attention to the smaller connections - intermediary institutions - that a democratic communitarian society, a 'community of communities' needs if it is to stay alive

Topics: Letteren, early modern society, Civil Society, Citizenship, Reformed Church, Craftguilds, Civic Militias, community building, ecumenicity of everyday life
Publisher: Uitgeverij Verloren
Year: 2007
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