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Citizens in the streets: Negotiations of political subjectivity in libels in the Age of Liberty
Uppsala University, Disciplinary Domain of Humanities and Social Sciences, Faculty of Arts, Department of History.
2007 (English)In: Scandia, ISSN 0036-5483, Vol. 73, no 1, 27-55 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

The eighteenth century saw an ongoing negotiation of citizenship and what this concept actually entailed. This was largely a process of creating and redefining boundaries-of connecting political subjectivity to a specific gender, class, race or ethnicity, and set of values. This article sets out to map a part of this negotiation of citizenship by looking at libels posted in public places in Stockholm in the Age of Liberty. The objective is to take into account all those who insisted upon including themselves in political life. Libellers displayed an acute involvement in national politics, using the spaces of the city as amplifiers of their messages and certain sites were particularly popular for libeling, e.g. the front door of the House of the Nobility and the pillory on Stortorget. Values displayed in libels show the importance of political virtue in becoming a citizen. Fear of God, patriotism, the interconnected category of masculinity and social standing, as well as an ideal of open discussion were the important values that all who aspired to political influence had to subscribe to. Theoretical openness and accessibility does not mean, however, that these virtues were to be found among all who showed political ambition. While fear of God, patriotism and open discussion could be taken up by anyone, it was the connections between social standing and masculinity in which the political struggle between the nobility on the one hand, and the burghers and clergy on the other, took place. Peasants were written off as citizens, with the exception of long time speaker Olof Hakansson, because of their incapability to stand against corruption and external influences. Some changes also occurred in how virtues were weighted in the period studied. In the early years of the Age of Liberty, fear of God and Christian virtues were stressed, whereas by the 1740's civic virtues like patriotism and love of the fatherland received more attention. The last few decades of the Age of Liberty saw a rise in gendered virtues and explicit sexual references combined with greater attention to social differentiation. Also, libels went from having criticised particular individuals and their actions, to denouncing politician's views.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2007. Vol. 73, no 1, 27-55 p.
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URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-141114ISI: 000256322400003OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-141114DiVA: diva2:385035
Available from: 2011-01-11 Created: 2011-01-11 Last updated: 2011-01-11Bibliographically approved

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