The nature of government in this period, its objectives and achievements, can be approached from a number of angles. Much of the discussion has revolved around the notion of Enlightened Despotism or, as it is sometimes described, Enlightened Absolutism. This suggests that many governments, particularly in the second half of the century, were influenced in the formulation and implementation of their policies by ideas associated with the Enlightenment and that government became a means to implement an Enlightenment agenda. The validity of this concept has been much debated, which is scarcely surprising as it shares the ambiguity and amorphousness that characterises the very notion of the Enlightenment itself. Furthermore, Enlightened Despotism is sometimes discussed in a manner that implies that states or governments were in some fashion separate from and acting upon society. Such a view, which was indeed sometimes taken, tends to lead to a presentation of government and society in adversarial terms and to treat the disparity between policies and their implementation accordingly.
Swipe to navigate through the chapters of this book
Please log in to get access to this content
To get access to this content you need the following product:
- Government and Administration
- Macmillan Education UK
- Sequence number
- Chapter number