Pillarised once, pillarised forever? Multidisciplinary approach of socio-political cleavages in Belgium (XIX – XXIth century)

Deadline: 01/06/2017

Pillarised once, pillarised forever?
Multidisciplinary approach of socio-political cleavages in Belgium
(XIX – XXIth century)

Université libre de Bruxelles, 12th and 13th of October 2017
Brussels

Problematisation
The concept of “pillarisation” borrowed from the Dutch “verzuiling” composes one of the fundamental characteristics of the Belgian society. Historically created at the beginning of the XIXth century on confessional (and philosophical) and socio-economical cleavages, this social and political system lead to the construction of separated social environments. People lived in “pillars” -founded on a single ideology (Catholicism, laicity and socialism)- which framed the life of individuals from cradle to grave through an array of organisations: schools, hospitals, mutual insurances, trade unions, youth organisations and sometimes revolving a political party. The question of depillarisation appeared in the 1990’s. Social changes, concomitant to an opening and a reconfiguration of the pillars, lead to a restructuration of society through a proliferation of new organisations. Scholars have pointed out that this phenomenon began in the 1960’s, analysing it through the idea of individualisation of society. How should the phenomenon of (de)pillarisation be studied in in Belgium today? Is pillarisation still apparent in Belgium?

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