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Gerhard Oestreich, the Early Modern state and the Swedish state of research

Persson, Stefan LU (2007) In Scandia 73(1). p.57-78
Abstract
This article deals with Gerhard Oestreich's concept of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' and its possible status as a challenger to the two main schools within the Swedish state of research concerning the Early Modern state-building process. These main streams in Swedish historical research concists of the Interventionists, who argue for the state's more or less brutal intervention in the local autonomous structure during the Early Modern epoch, and the communalists, meaning that the former self-ruling local societies developed into full-scaled state institutions in a way that stresses co-operation between state and local society as well as a peaceful establishment of the modern state. I mean that the thesis of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' is not... (More)
This article deals with Gerhard Oestreich's concept of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' and its possible status as a challenger to the two main schools within the Swedish state of research concerning the Early Modern state-building process. These main streams in Swedish historical research concists of the Interventionists, who argue for the state's more or less brutal intervention in the local autonomous structure during the Early Modern epoch, and the communalists, meaning that the former self-ruling local societies developed into full-scaled state institutions in a way that stresses co-operation between state and local society as well as a peaceful establishment of the modern state. I mean that the thesis of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' is not properly interpreted when it comes to value Oestreich and his description of the development in the Western and Northern European states during Early Modern time. It is easy to establish that Oestreich indeed speaks of a solid intervention in society by the state in almost all spheres down to the individual, and that the main purpose was to discipline the population. Nevertheless, it is necessary to focus on Oestreich's wider concepts when valuing the Early Modern absolute state and its possibilities to rule from a solid power basis. According to Oestreich, it was never the main purpose for the absolute state to rule exclusively deliberated from the institutions of the local societies and former feudal autonomous regions. The absolute state had to concider the facts that it did not constitute a solid power base for a totalitarian rule. Instead it had to shear the power with other influential institutions and so it went on, despite an ambition to discipline the population to fulfil new tasks within centralized and State-controlled spheres like the army, the civil administration and the judicial system. There was an ideological struggle going on around western Europe that resulted in a decentralized political structure in the Roman-German empire, despite the ongoing social disciplining. Most probably Sweden stands as a shining example of a social disciplined 'Grosstaat', according to Oestreich's thesis. There are a lot of facts and circumstances that must be concidered and analysed together with the establishment of the 'Sozialdiszipfinierung', if the ambition is to understand the development properly. Among them is, from the State's point of view, undoubtedly the utilitarian aspect and the practical need of a disciplined society. The two main Swedish schools have not concidering these facts in a total and cooperating analyze. The autonomous regions were neither interested in, nor had the practical conditions to establish a 'Grosstaat', instead they practiced an 'Unstaatlichkeit' that was built on a tendency of particularism. These are simple facts, but yet it cannot be avoided that the thesis of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' is provocative to many in its claiming of universal and general validity. Nevertheless, if properly interpreted such a wide range theory can become a real challenge to the two Swedish main schools, and even unite them. (Less)
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author
organization
publishing date
type
Contribution to journal
publication status
published
subject
in
Scandia
volume
73
issue
1
pages
57 - 78
publisher
Stiftelsen Scandia
external identifiers
  • wos:000256322400004
ISSN
0036-5483
language
English
LU publication?
yes
id
666bcdef-ca9b-484e-b5e2-d016fb36c214 (old id 1406802)
date added to LUP
2009-06-04 10:09:11
date last changed
2016-04-16 03:12:19
@article{666bcdef-ca9b-484e-b5e2-d016fb36c214,
  abstract     = {This article deals with Gerhard Oestreich's concept of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' and its possible status as a challenger to the two main schools within the Swedish state of research concerning the Early Modern state-building process. These main streams in Swedish historical research concists of the Interventionists, who argue for the state's more or less brutal intervention in the local autonomous structure during the Early Modern epoch, and the communalists, meaning that the former self-ruling local societies developed into full-scaled state institutions in a way that stresses co-operation between state and local society as well as a peaceful establishment of the modern state. I mean that the thesis of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' is not properly interpreted when it comes to value Oestreich and his description of the development in the Western and Northern European states during Early Modern time. It is easy to establish that Oestreich indeed speaks of a solid intervention in society by the state in almost all spheres down to the individual, and that the main purpose was to discipline the population. Nevertheless, it is necessary to focus on Oestreich's wider concepts when valuing the Early Modern absolute state and its possibilities to rule from a solid power basis. According to Oestreich, it was never the main purpose for the absolute state to rule exclusively deliberated from the institutions of the local societies and former feudal autonomous regions. The absolute state had to concider the facts that it did not constitute a solid power base for a totalitarian rule. Instead it had to shear the power with other influential institutions and so it went on, despite an ambition to discipline the population to fulfil new tasks within centralized and State-controlled spheres like the army, the civil administration and the judicial system. There was an ideological struggle going on around western Europe that resulted in a decentralized political structure in the Roman-German empire, despite the ongoing social disciplining. Most probably Sweden stands as a shining example of a social disciplined 'Grosstaat', according to Oestreich's thesis. There are a lot of facts and circumstances that must be concidered and analysed together with the establishment of the 'Sozialdiszipfinierung', if the ambition is to understand the development properly. Among them is, from the State's point of view, undoubtedly the utilitarian aspect and the practical need of a disciplined society. The two main Swedish schools have not concidering these facts in a total and cooperating analyze. The autonomous regions were neither interested in, nor had the practical conditions to establish a 'Grosstaat', instead they practiced an 'Unstaatlichkeit' that was built on a tendency of particularism. These are simple facts, but yet it cannot be avoided that the thesis of 'Sozialdisziplinierung' is provocative to many in its claiming of universal and general validity. Nevertheless, if properly interpreted such a wide range theory can become a real challenge to the two Swedish main schools, and even unite them.},
  author       = {Persson, Stefan},
  issn         = {0036-5483},
  language     = {eng},
  number       = {1},
  pages        = {57--78},
  publisher    = {Stiftelsen Scandia},
  series       = {Scandia},
  title        = {Gerhard Oestreich, the Early Modern state and the Swedish state of research},
  volume       = {73},
  year         = {2007},
}