NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH
NATIONAL BUREAU OF ECONOMIC RESEARCH

Corps Intermédiaires, Civil Society, and the Art of Association

Jacob T. Levy

NBER Working Paper No. 21254
Issued in June 2015
NBER Program(s):POL

This paper traces the shifts in treatments of intermediate groups among some liberal and democratic political theorists in the 18th and 19th centuries. The decades of the late 18th and early 19th centuries are traditionally understood to encompass the emergence of fully liberal political and social theory, and an early version of liberal political practice, in France, the UK, and the US; they have lately been identified by North, Wallis, and Weingast as the decades when those three societies substantially made the transition to “open access” political, economic, and legal orders. This transition consists in part in the democratization of organizational tools that had previously been open only to members of the elite, such as the shift from specially chartered monopolistic corporations to general incorporation laws, and that from parliamentary oligopolistic party competition to modern parties competing in wide-suffrage elections. Although the early liberal theorists did not fully perceive the changes happening around them, their analyses and reactions can help us see things about the shift to open-access orders that might not be fully visible in retrospect. To varying degrees they looked forward to the possibility of a pluralism without privilege, but they also had doubts about its possibility. They offered some reasons to prefer pluralism with privilege to the absence of both. They worried that centralization, democratic or otherwise, might be the preeminent fact of modern state consolidation, and that purely voluntary, equal, associational pluralism might not be powerful enough to check it. The kinds of pluralism grounded in ancient regime privilege and status, in entrenched jurisdictional pluralism within the constitutional order, or in pre-political cultural and customary ties might be needed to motivate the oppositional political action that could protect pluralism and freedom.

You may purchase this paper on-line in .pdf format from SSRN.com ($5) for electronic delivery.

Access to NBER Papers

You are eligible for a free download if you are a subscriber, a corporate associate of the NBER, a journalist, an employee of the U.S. federal government with a ".GOV" domain name, or a resident of nearly any developing country or transition economy.

If you usually get free papers at work/university but do not at home, you can either connect to your work VPN or proxy (if any) or elect to have a link to the paper emailed to your work email address below. The email address must be connected to a subscribing college, university, or other subscribing institution. Gmail and other free email addresses will not have access.

E-mail:

Machine-readable bibliographic record - MARC, RIS, BibTeX

Document Object Identifier (DOI): 10.3386/w21254

Published: Pluralism without Privilege? Corps Intermédiaires, Civil Society, and the Art of Association, Jacob T. Levy. in Organizations, Civil Society, and the Roots of Development, Lamoreaux and Wallis. 2017

Users who downloaded this paper also downloaded* these:
Spolaore w21250 The Political Economy of European Integration
Merton and Thakor w21258 Customers and Investors: A Framework for Understanding Financial Institutions
Lo w21267 The Gordon Gekko Effect: The Role of Culture in the Financial Industry
Krueger and Yoo Chaebol Capitalism and the Currency-Financial Crisis in Korea
Weingast Adam Smith’s Theory of Violence and the Political Economics of Development
 
Publications
Activities
Meetings
NBER Videos
Themes
Data
People
About

National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02138; 617-868-3900; email: info@nber.org

Contact Us