Down to the Bottom of Society Cover Image

Až na dno společnosti
Down to the Bottom of Society

Author(s): Lucie Dušková
Subject(s): History, Cultural history, Comparative history, Recent History (1900 till today), 19th Century
Published by: AV ČR - Akademie věd České republiky - Ústav pro soudobé dějiny
Keywords: Lower depths;Social imagination;Social pathology;construction of collective identities;

Summary/Abstract: Kalifa, Dominique. Les bas-fonds: Histoire d’un imaginaire. Paris: Seuil, 2013, 394 pp., ISBN 978-2-02-096762-4.The book under review, by the French historian Dominique Kalifa (is Director of the Centre for Nineteenth-century History at the University of Paris, where he specializes in the history of crime, transgression, social control, and mass culture in nineteenth and early twentieth-century Europe, particularly France), is concerned with the phenomenon of the ‘lower depths’ (or ‘dregs of society’), as they emerged and changed into Euro-American culture, from the beginning of the nineteenth century to the present. The author does not seek to analyse this seemingly ungraspable topic using the methods of historical sociology, for it has long evaded study by the means available to the social sciences. Instead, he turns to the ways the subject has been represented by bureaucracies, journalists, tourism, and art. According to the reviewer, it is important how the author inverts the perspective, and demonstrates that the history of the dregs of society is mainly the history of majority society. That is to say, majority society has felt a need to describe and name its dark side and its fear of a changing world, to exclude, moralize, and discipline. One may regret that the work is limited to the francophone, anglophone, and hispanophone worlds, but that means also that the topic remains an inspiring challenge to other scholars.

  • Issue Year: XXIII/2016
  • Issue No: 3
  • Page Range: 478-482
  • Page Count: 5
  • Language: Czech