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Title: Reformist conservatism and political mobilization : a study of factionalism and movements for reform within the German Conservative Party, 1876-1914
Author: Retallack, James N.
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 1983
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This study of the German Conservative Party (DKP) suggests that two factors - the wielding of high-level influence and the mobilization of popular forces - were particularly important in determining the response of the traditional Right to new social, economic, and political pressures in Imperial Germany. Caught between the conflicting demands of 'political exclusivity' and 'mass inclusion' , German Conservatives were faced with challenges of adaptation which they were, in the main, unable to meet. Due to a lack of unity and an uncertain response to the possibilities of reform within their party, Conservatives continued to try to reconcile elitist and popular brands of politics, even as their inability to cope with the breakdown of the traditional 'politics of notables' became clear. This thesis presents a new and differentiated picture of the DKP, suspended between 'high' and 'low' politics. An analysis of pre-1914 Conservative politics 'from the bottom up' suggests how demands for political participation at the grass-roots level were registered; conversely, a study of the party leaders' reactions to reformism and dissent indicates how opportunities for participation were conceded - or denied - from above. This thesis places special emphasis on exploring the ways dissident Conservatives expressed their views in the provinces, the press, and the party congresses. Past views of the DKP as a static, monolithic, and exclusively agrarian vehicle for the defence of a narrow class interest are no longer adequate. Movements for organizational and programmatic reform helped shape the broader dimensions of the Conservative Party's relationship with the government and other right-wing groups, as did perceptions of disunity within the DKP and hopes for 'enlightened' Conservative policies. By using a number of new sources to examine the DKP's response to problems of factionalism and political change, this study helps redraw the equation between the apparent atrophy of the traditional Right and the awakening of popular politics in Germany.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Political science