This main session at the 10th International Conference on Urban History in Ghent (1-4 September 2010) fits in a broader field of research on the history of civil society and associational life in an urban context. The idea is to link this type of research to research on kinship and family life. While most historians assume that family relations and kin-based support were less important in urban settings, only a few studies have focussed on the connection between urbanization, family relations and civil society. Hence, this session will examine the possible links of associational life with domestic and private social relations.
The following questions may be tackled:
(1) Was membership of brotherhoods, guilds, clubs etc. limited to married men or could their wifes be a member as well? Did man and wife join the same organization or not? Did members of the same (extended) family meet in the same organization?
(2) Was there a relationship between demographic changes (high mortality rates, migration patterns etc.) and the emergence of new (types of) organization(s)? Did immigrants join organisations more, and if so, did they form their own organizations or did they participate inr existing organizations?
(3) How was civil society related to community life at a neighbourhood level? Can a relationship be found between the social cohesion in a neighbourhood and the emergence and activities of brotherhoods, guilds, and clubs? How did communities organize, stabilize, justify their social community life and how were these forms of sociability integrated into the city?
(4) Were collective activities related to hardship or the absence of strong social ties? Were they geared towards providing mutual aid and poor relief, or was perhaps community and identity building more important?
(5) Did sharp distinctions between different confessional cultures exist concerning the formation of an urban civil society or the influence of communities in Europe?
The organizers of this session particularly invite long term and comparative perspectives (including comparisons between urban and rural settings). Abstracts of no more than 500 words should be send to one of the organizers of the session (see below). After acception, they have to be posted at the official conference website (http://www.eauh2010.ugent.be) between 1 October and 1 December 2009. Further questions can be send to Maarten Van Dijck, University of Antwerp, Centre for Urban History (Maarten.VanDijck@ua.ac.be).
Maarten Van Dijck (University of Antwerp, Centre for Urban History)
Bert De Munck (University of Antwerp, Centre for Urban History)
Eric Piltz (Technical University of Dresden, History Department)
Matthew Davies (University of London, Centre for Metropolitan History)
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