Monopolising the Common Good

Commercial Lobbying and Political Economy in Europe, ca. 1650–1850

jeudi 8 et vendredi 9 mars 2018

Deutsches Historisches Institut Paris
Institut historique allemand
Hôtel Duret-de-Chevry
8 rue du Parc-Royal
75003 Paris
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Entrée libre sur réservation préalable:


Moritz Isenmann |Universität zu Köln
Philippe Minard | Université Paris 8 / EHESS

Lobbying can be defined as the influence exerted by particular groups on persons endowed with public authority. Often these groups also seek to influence public opinion via the media in order to create an environment favourable to their goals. Most scientific studies on lobbying are carried out by political scientists, while historians analysing economic pressure groups have in general focussed on the period from the 19th century onwards when lobbies became increasingly organised. There are good reasons, however, to extend the systematic inquiry into the activities of pressure groups back to the early modern era. For lobbying becomes an issue as soon as the State (respectively the Prince) takes an active role in directing economic policy thus making an influence over its decisions desirable. In Europe, this was the case from the 17th century onwards, when the direction of economic affaires, which until then had been seen from an Aristotelian perspective as belonging to the sphere of private households, came to be considered as a task to be performed by the Prince. Other preconditions favouring an increased lobbying activity were added during the following century, such as the rise of political economy making available different visions of economic policy as well as the creation of a public sphere, which could be influenced by the dissemination of journals and other printed texts.

This conference addresses the problem of economic lobbying from the second half of the 17th century until the end of that formative period of modernity often referred to as „Sattelzeit“ (1750–1850). The following aspects and questions could be discussed :

Lobbyists and Governments: Which concrete practices of lobbying can be identified for the pre-modern era? What degree of organisation did lobbying have? Did governments encourage lobbying, for example by setting up new councils where merchants and manufacturers had a voice, or did merchants seek to form their own organisations, perhaps even in opposition to governments? How was lobbying shaped by the respective form of government? Can there be noted changes over time?

Discourses of the Common Good: Lobbying creates a triangular relationship, the representative of a particular group influencing the holder of public power to take decisions with consequences for the whole community. Since group interests tend to be considered as illegitimate as soon as they have a negative impact for the community as a whole, lobbyists are forced to present the interests of the group they represent as corresponding with the interests of the whole community. Which rhetoric and discursive strategies did lobbyists use in order to monopolise the common good for their interests?

Lobbying and the Rise of Political Economy: What was the relationship between the discourses used by lobbyist and economic theory? Did lobbyists use economic theories to back up their claims? And if they did, had these theories been created by political economists and were already available to lobbyists, or did the latter bring forward new theories thus taking an active role in the rise of political economy?

Influencing Public Opinion: The 18th century has been linked to the creation of a public sphere. To what degree and by which means did early modern lobbyists seek to influence public opinion?




14h –15h30 Section / Sektion 1
Présidence / Vorsitz : Moritz Isenmann |Universität zu Köln

Accueil des participants / Begrüßung der Teilnehmerinnen und Teilnehmer

Introduction / Tagungseinführung
Moritz Isenmann |Universität zu Köln
Philippe Minard | Université Paris 8 / EHESS

Guillaume Garner | Lyon
Entre représentation des intérêts, conseil et expertise: institutions du Commerce et autorités en Allemagne 1750–1850


16h –18h Section / Sektion 2
Présidence / Vorsitz : Koen Stapelbroek

Guillaume Foutrier | Paris
Un lobby marchand au XVIIIe siècle: les merciers de Rouen

Guillaume Calafat | Paris/Princeton
»Nations« et lobbys marchands. Consuls, commerce maritime et réformes en Méditerranée (1660–1700)



9h –10h30 Section / Sektion 3
Présidence / Vorsitz : Rainer Babel

William J. Ashworth | Liverpool
Regulation, protectionism and the British cotton industry

Regina Grafe | Florence
Of monopolios and monopodios. Rethinking the carrera da Indias


11h –12h30 Section / Sektion 4
Présidence / Vorsitz : Vincent Demont

Moritz Isenmann | Cologne
Agrarian lobbying and the rise of liberal trade theory in 18th century France

Koen Stapelbroek | Rotterdam/Helsinki
Between political privilege and economic imperative: the Dutch ›free port‹ debate of the early nineteenth century


12h30 – 13h45 Pause déjeuner

13h45 –15h Séance de clôture / Tagungsabschluss
Présidence / Vorsitz: Philippe Minard

Pierre Gervais | Paris
Les logiques du lobbying marchand: quels enseignements ? Un commentaire

Discussion finale / Abschlussdiskussion

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