The Age of Empire
During this weeks reading of The Age of Empire, Eric Hobsbawm focused on nineteenth century politics. More specifically, he detailed the start of Europe’s political democratization. It seemed that Hobsbawm felt the emergence of European democracy was the result of a national desire to simultaneously please the rich and the poor’s, or the bourgeois and proletariat’s, contrasting ideologies. Hobsbawm describes this modernization of politics as inevitable, despite the opinions of powerful leaders. Europe’s democratization was an unstoppable force; the rhetoric of the popular vote and the modern and industrial setting of the nineteenth century catered to a democratic reform.
As a sociology major, I appreciated how Hobsbawm tied in key sociological theorists to his historical analysis of democratization in Europe. Durkheim and Weber stick out to me as very important people because of how they historicized this era, subsequently forming our interpretation and understanding of political Europe.
Hobsbawm describes the biggest issue of democracy to be fulfilling both the low and high class society’s political needs. In what ways or in what areas of Europe were the political needs of peasants more fulfilled? Where did the elites have more power?