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The era between the revolutionary upheavals in Europe in 1848 and the opening of World War I was one of immense changes. Encompassing such developments as nationalism, the Industrial Revolution, the growth of political and economic liberalism, and the rise of the social sciences, this period contributed some of the most significant ideas and institutions which characterize contemporary Western Civilization. Their impact. Indeed, now challenges virtually the entire world.

In the same age there arose the phenomenon of socialism, a family name for a group of ideas which received increasing attention in the latter half of the nineteenth century as the Western World sought solutions to the political, economic, and social problems of the modern age. Socialism came into vogue earlier in the century as a descriptive term applied primarily to the doctrines of Robert Owen, Henri de Saint-Simon, and Charles Fourier. As a family of ideas, however, socialism has a lengthy and mixed ancestry, dating back to the first years of recorded history. [excerpt]


This is a part of Section XVI: Developments in Socialism, (1848-1914). The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections of Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.