Discourses of Community: State and Civil Society Relations in the Case of Alcoholism and ‘Illiberal Policies’ in Denmark 1900–1938

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    The bulk of research on ‘illiberal policies’, including eugenic legislation, of the early and mid-20th century Europe and US holds that strong states and weak civil societies caused this legislation to be adopted. Similarly, civil society theory has held that ‘gardening’ states tend to encroach on civil society through ‘colonization’, while civil society organizations act as ‘sensors’ for experiences of marginalization. Based on a case study of the discursive and political relations between the temperance organization The Blue Cross and the Danish state 1900-1938, this article shows empirically that this civil society organization introduced eugenic thinking well ahead of state legislation and furthermore lobbied for the illiberal policies on alcoholism that the state enforced in the 1930s. It is further argued that the eventual agreement by the two sides was possible, since both parties were informed by discourses emphasizing community over the individual. Some implications, including increased sensitivity to social relations, culture, and experience, for theories on civil society/state relations are hinted at.
    Original languageEnglish
    Publication date2016
    Publication statusPublished - 2016
    Event41st Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association: Beyond Social Science History: Knowledge in an Interdisciplinary World - Chicago, IL, United States
    Duration: 17 Nov 201620 Nov 2016
    Conference number: 41


    Conference41st Annual Meeting of the Social Science History Association
    Country/TerritoryUnited States
    CityChicago, IL
    Internet address

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