1st Edition

Revolutionary Republicanism Participation and Representation in 1848 France

By Samuel Hayat Copyright 2024
    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    242 Pages
    by Routledge

    Revolutionary Republicanism provides a history of French republicanism seen through a seminal episode of its creation – the 1848 revolution.

    The process of reinventing republicanism in 1848 gave rise to two opposite understandings of republicanism: a moderate one that merely adapted the institutions of representative government to popular sovereignty, and a more radical, ‘social- democratic’ notion of republicanism, based on inclusive forms of representation and aiming at the emancipation of the proletariat. These two notions of republicanism unfolded over the course of the few critical months between the revolution of February 1848 and the uprising of June 1848, which saw the victory of the moderate one. Playing devil’s advocate to the traditional republican history that casts 1848 as a mere step in the continuous history of French republicanism, the book demonstrates that the events of the revolution amounted to a repression of all that the ‘Republic’ had meant up until that point, particularly the forms of participation and popular representation hitherto seen as constituting a republican regime. The text also sets out to chart the history of the ‘democratic and social Republic’, as the socialist and worker revolutionaries of 1848 called the radical republicanism they dreamed of founding and believed would fulfil the republican promise of emancipation.

    This book will appeal to all those with an interest in the French revolutions, and the history of radical ideas.


    Introduction: The two faces of the French republic

    • The 1848 Revolution and the meaning of the republic
    • Which history of republicanism?
    • The republic and its double

    1 From one revolution to another (1789– 1848)

    • Ultra- royalist reaction and the emergence of the liberal movement
    • Configurations of the liberal movement
    • The theory of representative government
    • Representative government in practice
    • The emergence of the republican movement
    • Republicans and the proletariat
    • The association: a shared arena for workers and republicans
    • The politicisation of local elections and the reformist movement
    • Electoral reform and the social question
    • The banquet campaign and the fall of the July regime

    2 The February Republic: A plural system

    • Establishment of the Provisional Government
    • Restructuring of the National Guard
    • Establishment of the Luxembourg Commission
    • The beginnings of the club movement
    • The transformation of citizenship
    • The unrepresentable

    3 Institutions under the February Republic: A bone of contention

    • The Provisional Government: temporary administration or revolutionary authority?
    • The Parisian National Guard: law enforcement or the armed people?
    • The Luxembourg Commission, ‘socialist synagogue’ or unprecedented representation of labour?
    • The Paris press and clubs: conversation or collective action?

    4 17 March and the invention of demonstration

    • Towards the 17 March demonstration
    • 16 March: the first reactionary demonstration
    • The demands of the 17 March demonstration
    • The demonstration as representation of the represented
    • The emergence of partisanship
    • The Ledru- Rollin circulars and democratic republicanism
    • Lamartine’s moderate republicanism

    5 16 April and the failure of democratic republicanism

    • 16 April, a clash between republicanisms
    • The people and the streets
    • The National Guard: a law enforcement tool in the service of the state
    • The failure of the Luxembourg Commission
    • Political clubs and newspapers, spaces for free discussion

    6 15 May and the triumph of election

    • The electoral legitimacy of Constituent Assembly
    • 15 May: parliamentary inviolability put to the test
    • Interpreting the events of 15 May
    • Absolute representation

    7 The two republics

    • Identifying the ‘idle’: the two faces of National Workshop labourers
    • The journaux rouges and social- democratic republicanism
    • Labour organisation, embodiment of the social- democratic republic
    • ‘It must end’
    • Defending the republic


    • Established republicanism
    • The ‘Proudhonian moment’ of the French labour movement
    • An autonomous labour movement



    Samuel Hayat is a researcher in politics for the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) at the Sciences Po Center for Political Research (CEVIPOF).

    'Paris, Spring 1848: a brief period for innovations that challenge any simple dichotomy between “direct" and “representative" democracy. Samuel Hayat’s engaging book resurrects experimental institutions that empowered workers at this critical moment to inspire new ways of enacting liberty in our time.'

    Lisa Disch, University of Michigan—Ann Arbor, USA

    'This book is not only illuminating for acknowledging the importance of the French Revolution of 1848. It is also crucial to understand a type of political representation different from the electoral one, and to realize that republicanism can be revolutionary.'

    Yves Sintomer, Paris 8 University, France; Nuffield College, Oxford, UK