Sociability and medical reform
in Medical societies and scientific culture in nineteenth-century Belgium
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This chapter discusses the foundation and transformation of medical societies in the Southern Netherlands from the late eighteenth century to 1840. It explores, how the model of eighteenth-century learned societies, like other institutions of the Ancien Régime such as universities, was refashioned into a new, uniquely medical institution. Central to this refashioning was the transformation of societies’ focus on usefulness to the general public ‒ an ideal that was typical of late eighteenth-century learned culture ‒ into a more concrete promotion of science among a newly conceived professional community of physicians. The chapter analyzes shifts in societies’ membership, mission and social role against the background of shifting political regimes (respectively the Austrian, French, Dutch and Belgian authorities), which paralleled successive stages of medical reform.

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