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
Liberalism is the label for a diverse family of views and practices that began to take shape in England and Europe in the wake of the Protestant Reformation, emerged in several countries as a powerful force in the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and now dominates political discourse throughout much of the world. The interests of this family's many branches extend into matters of government, the organization of society, and the nature of a good life for human beings. Although these branches are loosely united by shared commitments to a set of values and institutional arrangements, they are also susceptible to quarrels and even bitter estrangements. The terms liberal and liberalism acquired their modern meanings gradually throughout Europe over the first few decades of the nineteenth century, beginning with Napoleon Bonaparte's use of the phrase idées libérales in his Proclamation of the 18th Brumaire 1799. In 1810, a faction liberales ...