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Soziales Kapital im Zeitalter materieller Interessen: Konzeptionelle Überlegungen zum Vertrauen in der Zivil- und Marktgesellschaft des langen 19. Jahrhunderts (1780-1914)

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  • Reichardt, Sven
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    Abstract

    Der Aufsatz behandelt konzeptionelle Überlegungen und begriffliche Klärungen für eine Studie zum „ehrbaren Kaufmann“ im Wirtschaftsleben des 19. Jahrhunderts. Ausgehend von einem historisierten Verständnis der Zivilgesellschaft werden die normativen Präferenzen der historischen Akteure in die Definition der Zivilgesellschaft einbezogen. Die historische Semantik und die zugeordneten symbolischen Codes der Zeitgenossen werden somit ernstgenommen und konzeptionell aufgegriffen. Das Konzept der Zivilgesellschaft wurde während des 18. Jahrhundert von denselben Wissenschaftlern und Politikern entwickelt, die zugleich auch prominente Vertreter der Politischen Ökonomie waren. In diesem Zusammenhang betrachteten sie Freiheit, Individualität und Vertrauen als zentrale Kennzeichen der Zivilgesellschaft als auch des Marktes. Im 19. Jahrhundert dagegen bewerteten sowohl Marxisten als auch konservative Kritiker den Markt wesentlich kritischer. Der allumfassende Markt, so meinten sie, würde Vertrauen und soziale Beziehungen zerstören. Dementsprechend spielte das Konzept der Zivilgesellschaft nur noch eine untergeordnete Rolle. Der Aufsatz möchte diesen Bewertungswandel von Markt und Zivilgesellschaft mit den Instrumenten der Neuen Institutionenökonomie (Institutionen, Sozialkapital und Vertrauen) untersuchen. Die Geschichte des „ehrbaren Kaufmanns“ als Denkvorstellung und historische Praxis wird hierbei als eine Fallstudie vorgeschlagen, anhand derer sich der Bedeutungswandel exemplarisch nachvollziehen läßt. -- The paper discusses conceptual considerations and clarifies central theoretical terms for a study of the importance of the image of the “honourable merchant” during the industrial world of the 19th century. Using a historicized concept of civil society, the normative preferences of historical actors will be worked into the definition of civil society. By reflecting upon the historic semantics of civil society, the subjective dimension of civil society and the related ‘symbolic codes’ are revealed. The concept of ‘civil society’ was developed during the 18th century by the same scientists and politicians who were prominent representatives of the modern discipline of ‘political economy’. In this context, the values of freedom, individuality and trust played an outstanding role within civil society as well as in the economy. However in the 19th century, Marxist as well as romantic and conservative critics observed a fundamental restructuring of the society, along with individuals’ increased aspirations for economic personal benefit. An all-embracing ‘market’, they feared, would threaten existing trust and social relations. Consequently civil society was no longer seen as a central concept. This article proposes an analysis of the change in evaluation of the market and the civil society using the instruments and terms of the new institutional economy (institutions, social capital and trust). The history of the “honourable merchant” as an idea and historical practice is presented as a promising case study for the analysis of these changes.

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    Bibliographic Info

    Paper provided by Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) in its series Discussion Papers, Working Group Civil Society: Historical and Comparative Perspectives with number SP IV 2003-503.

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    Date of creation: 2003
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    Handle: RePEc:zbw:wzbhis:spiv2003503

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