Politics, Clubs and Social Space
Peter Clark, History, University of Helsinki
It has been argued that the rise of clubs and societies played an important part in the formation of political space in later Stuart and Hanoverian Britain, as places to hear and discuss political news, organise party politicking (or escape from it), mobilise public initiatives, even learn and practise the basic rules of the political process. But how far was this a distinctive development – unique to the period and country – and if so how do we explain it? In my paper I will look at the development of voluntary associations, particularly confraternities in the later medieval period and try to assess their political significance. I will also survey the growth of academies, clubs and societies in continental Europe and look at their contribution to the making of political space. One important difference between medieval confraternities and continental associations and British clubs and societies a may have been the latter’s greater embeddedness in social space, linked in part to their location in public drinking houses.