Becoming a Male Citizen: A Particular Elite, Universal Aspirations


In the German territories, modernity was not heralded by a revolution, nor was there a single boundary or political structure. Culture in the late eighteenth century became the common denominator for a disparate social stratum that included the old urban bourgeoisie, officials from the early modern state bureaucracy, and the educated bourgeoisie. Their norms were not always new: work, for example, was translated from a Christian-moral discourse of virtue into a secular concept. Bourgeois norms aspired to universal validity but at the same time served to draw both internal and external boundaries. These norms were directed against aristocratic courtly culture but also against the Catholic Church, which was considered a stronghold of “superstition,” thus revealing the Protestant character of bourgeois culture. The popular enlightenment movement, in turn, sought to familiarize rural and lower-middle-class strata with new knowledge, but was viewed with increasing detachment.


  1. < Enlightenment in Germany: New Public Spheres, Gender as Difference
  2. “Races” and Civilizations in the Eighteenth Century >