Provincial cities at war. Local public spheres in German, Belgian and Dutch towns in the border region compared (1914-1919).

In recent international research on the First World War many traditional discourses have been more and more scrutinised.

In my PhD thesis, the Communicative Action of players in Civil Society in the Public Sphere will be analysed in the context of WW I. There is meant to be a special need for processes of social negotiations among a situation of rising tension during a war. In the focus of attention are the different incorporated associations, clubs and civil organisations, which found themselves in a permanent process of negotiation concerning the national discourses. Thereby they had to develop a stand on the social and political changes. These players in Civil Society carried out their Communicative Action in the Public Sphere by negotiating their relationship to the nation, defining it and offering their interpretations to the public. Thus they also created structures of social and cultural inclusion.

From a comparative perspective, the following towns in Western Europe form my investigation areas: (1) Eupen (German until 1920) (2) Tongeren (Belgian province of Limbourg) and (3) Roermond (Dutch province of Limbourg). Because of the distinctive transborder contacts in the investigation areas, it has also to be asked for the emergence of transnational networks between the German, Belgian and Dutch players in Civil Society.

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