Work packages

The first open-access digital encyclopaedia on sociability in Europe throughout the long-eighteenth century

Work packages

WP2: Research project on 'Histories, interactions and transfers of European models of sociability in the long eighteenth century’

The General Objective of WP2 is to set up fertile interdisciplinary and intersectoral collaborations to produce new readings into European sociability in the long eighteenth century, to generate new research with unpublished material and publish the output in the DIGITENS encyclopedia and various forms to reach a large academic, student and non-academic audience : peer-reviewed journal contributions, collective works, textbook, exhibition catalogue.

We have chosen British sociability as a starting point for building this framework on sociability, so as to expand on the current existing state of the art, and to take advantage of our partners’ research expertise. Through the involvement of European and Canadian researchers, we will compare British models with other European models of sociability in order to map the cross-cultural models of sociability that spread throughout Europe during the long eighteenth century. Until now, the main areas of study in sociability have been focussed on manners, taste, and politeness, rather than on the broader term of sociability. To expand the current state of the art and open up new lines of investigation, the term sociability will be used to address the often forgotten area of relationships and social movements, encompassing a sociological approach to the long eighteenth-century studies. The research material to be studied throughout the DIGITENS project for the research project and the creation of encyclopaedia entries will mainly consist of four types of primary sources: manuscripts (such as letters, archives of clubs and societies); printed text (conduct books, secretaries, memoirs, newspapers, dictionaries, sermons, treatises of architecture and medicine, literature); iconographies (paintings, engravings, satirical cartoons, sculptures); and objects (fashion garments, equipment, furniture, tools, and personal belongings). The aim of the DIGITENS project is to provide new readings of a variety of sources related to European sociability, shedding light on a period in which sociology did not exist but was in the process of being fashioned, and helping apprehend how the seeds of thinking about man and society were sown and developed into the social thinking of today, ultimately revealing the modernity of sociability in the long eighteenth century.

This work package and research project will rely on the scientific program of the GIS Sociabilités/Sociability.

To make visible the dynamic history of sociability which, from the anthropological perspective of the Enlightenment also relies on a philosophical approach, it is necessary to identify and describe concepts, categories, forms, objects, phenomena and socio-historical facts.

1.1. Writing the history of sociability in Europe from 1650 to 1850
1.2. Theorising sociability
1.3 Sociability and modernity

At what point in time did these new or modern sociabilities become established models and in some cases develop to adopt a dominant or even hegemonic cultural position? Was there a national consensus about this hegemony or was it undermined by organised or spontaneous resistance to the models? What alternative models were established?
What were the forms and methods of interaction specific to the various models identified and how did they contribute to the construction of new networks? How were these networks organised nationally and across Europe?

2.1 Identifying different national models
2.2. Operational modes

2.3 Paradoxes and conflicts
2.4 Towards forming networks

How did the models of sociability identified influence each other?
How did operational modes in sociability circulate and transfer from one society to another and one cultural area to another?
We will study the processes of imitation, mutation and appropriation that encourage the dissemination and construction of new models of sociability. We will strive, for example, to understand the mechanisms that enabled some nations, such as the British nation, to transform into civilised nations where politeness and courtesy became essential aspects of the national identity.
We will analyse the processes of hybridisation at work. It will be essential to understand the shift from one model to another, namely from an ancient model of sociability to a continental model (French and Italian) and the appearance of new models of sociability, such as a truly British model, which could, in turn export itself into Colonial and European societies.
What role did third-party cultures such as the Orient play in developing a European model of sociability?
We will also examine the central and peripheral dialectics, namely, interactions and conflicts between cities and provinces or colonising countries and colonies.
By taking account of the periphery, we will have a useful and original analytical framework for understanding the tensions, limits, and paradoxes underlying models of sociability and determining how they transferred.

3.1 Circulation and methods of exchange
3.2 Identity and hybridisation
3.3 Centre and periphery

To see a more detailed version of the scientific program in French, click here.

To get a more detailed version of the program in English, click here.