Title page for ETD etd-04122005-171051

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Murray-Miller, Gavin
Author's Email Address gmurra2@lsu.edu
URN etd-04122005-171051
Title Defining Modernity: Mentality and Ideology under the French Second Empire
Degree Master of Arts (M.A.)
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Benjamin F. Martin Committee Chair
David F. Lindenfeld Committee Member
Suzanne L. Marchand Committee Member
  • republican politics
  • positivism
  • the second empire
  • intellectual history
  • Napoleon III
  • France nineteenth century
Date of Defense 2005-04-04
Availability unrestricted
This study intends to examine the relationship between popular conceptions of modernity and Republican ideology during the Second Empire, 1852-1870. With the advent of the industrial revolution in France, scientific knowledge came to be equated with notions of progress and innovation, leading intellectual elites to design philosophical and social systems predicated upon the authority of scientific analysis and objectivity. Influenced by the intellectual currents under the Second Empire, a new generation of Republican political theorists incorporated notions of science into their ideological outlook, ultimately engendering a moderate brand of Republicanism which played a significant role in the founding of the Third Republic after 1870.

The efforts of intellectuals and Republican elites formulated a social program which utilized popular conceptions of science and progress to promote democratic and secular values, as well as discourage political violence. In defining their vision of modern society, the jeunes républicains consciously created an ideological system that comported with the hegemonic ambitions and social outlook of the new French bourgeoisie coming of age under the Second Empire. Thus, the exaltation of science, industry, and progress proffered by intellectuals and moderate Republican theorists constituted an affirmation of urban bourgeois values, with the subsequent social visions derived from such considerations reflecting and legitimizing, in part, these values and principles.

In evaluating the conflicts and dilemmas which faced Republicans under the Second Empire, this study seeks to reveal the importance of the imperial period in shaping the ideological outlook of the Third Republic. Offering a comprehensive view of modern society based upon popular notions of science and progress, Republican elites were able to establish a progressive and democratic political program which formulated a conception of modernity consistent with the interests and outlooks of the urban bourgeoisie seeking primacy under the Second Empire. The establishment of the Third Republic in 1870 and subsequent political victories in the 1880s signaled the triumph of the ideals and objectives devised by moderate Republicans between 1852 and 1870.

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