Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Individuals, Families, and Communities in Europe, 1200-1800: The Urban Foundations of Western Society

Academic journal article The Catholic Historical Review

Individuals, Families, and Communities in Europe, 1200-1800: The Urban Foundations of Western Society

Article excerpt

Individuals, Families, and Communities in Europe, 1200-1800: The Urban Foundations of Western Society. By Katherine A. Lynch. [Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time, 37.] (New York: Cambridge University Press. 2003. Pp. xiii, 250. $65.00 clothbound; $24.00 paperback.)

For Katherine Lynch, the foundations of Western society evolved from networks of individuals, families, and communities between the thirteenth century and the French Revolution. Her study covers Europe north and south and draws on the latest research on key cities and states. She documents old, inclusive "habits of association" that allowed families and communities to intermingle and ultimately become nations. More reinvention than a new departure, the only true novelty in the process is said to be the "increasing secular and political tone of associational life" by the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

What interests Lynch is the symbiotic relationship between households, families, and communities: "how family and community became interdependent parts of the same society." She perceives a connected process in which socially bound networks of individuals, both by nature and self-interest, form enduring bonds as they evolve into communities, which in turn become societies. In the process, working women, traditional religious confessions, and social welfare programs are seen to play key, positive roles in creating modern states and nations. …

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