Pub. date: 2010 | Online Pub. Date: May 06, 2010 | DOI: 10.4135/9781412958660 | Print ISBN: 9781412958653 | Online ISBN: 9781412958660| Publisher:SAGE Publications, Inc.About this encyclopedia
Like many concepts—including revolution, progress, citizenship, and others—the idea of emancipation is a modern construct. It originated among social thinkers who thought that their epoch was not only qualitatively distinct but also with a great potential for further improvement. Although the moderns did not coin the term, they gave emancipation a new twist. Where the concept originally refers to a course of action in which an individual assumes autonomy after parental control, the modern sense of emancipation entails a societal process in which a social-political break in continuity ensues. The new order is supposed to correct the ills of current dystopia and unleash the potential undercurrent in the present. Accordingly, emancipation has come to mean a process in which groups or society at large is extricated from a state of unfreedom, with conditions both objective and subjective. Objectively, modernity is perceived to have the material conditions for an advanced social ...