La dynamique sociale du catholicisme québécois au XIXe siècle : éléments pour une réflexion sur les frontières et les conditions historiques de possibilité du « social »


  • Jean-Marie Fecteau


This article studies the many uses and multiple meanings of the term “social” during the nineteenth century. The author argues that liberalism constructed social relations in such a way as to avoid questioning the tensions present in capitalist societies in terms of “social” problems, which were left to civil society and private initiatives. This promotion of the “private” set the stage for the expansion of religious institutions in nineteenth-century Quebec. The cost was the rapid distancing of the Church from the political arena, following the state’s recognition of freedom of religion at mid-century. Henceforth viewed by the state as an association of individuals without any special status, the Church had to reoccupy the “social” in a new way, by reorganizing the local fabric of civil society according to the parameters of the community of faith. Thus, somewhat paradoxically, liberalism and clericalism were the two inseparable forces encouraging the consolidation of a capitalist society in Quebec.






Surveying the Social, Part II