Workshop: Careers in politics, politics as a career. Developments in 19th and early 20th century Europe

Datum konání: 
14. 11. 2022, 15:00 to 15. 11. 2022, 18:30

politics_and_career_def.jpg?itok=Ivn-mKZA Workshop held as a part of the project Social mobility of elites in the Central European regions (1861–1926), supported by Czech Science Foundation. The research is carried out at the Faculty of Science of Charles University in Prague and Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS.


Date: November 14–15, 2022

Venue: Conference Room, Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Gabčíkova 2362/10, Prague 8


During the nineteenth century, the field of European politics witnessed a host of significant changes, prominent among them being the increasing tendency towards its professionalization. Against the backdrop of major social and cultural shifts, politics ceased to be exclusively regarded as the traditional elite’s ‘duty of honor’ and opened its doors, first to the middle class and then, with the extension of the franchise, to lower social and professional strata. It thus became more representative and more accessible to the average citizen, but also grew increasingly polarized and more easily swayed by group interests. These developments, combined with the education of the public’s taste for political spectacle, have, among other things, increased electoral spending and accelerated the establishment of political parties, in their initial shape as semi-formal ideological platforms lacking formalized membership and sometimes even clear hierarchical levels.

The increased financial requirements of the political game and the de- or semi-centralized party system worked to boost the role of individual actors at all levels. The success of the party as an organization relied on the fortunes (both financial and electoral) of local supporters, of which only a minority were both willing and able to turn politics into a trade. A handful among the latter joined the ranks of the party leadership, epitomizing its ideological commitment, while the bulk of party adherents remained dependent on their home constituencies and local electoral pools for the preservation of their parliamentary seats. Even so, the wide majority of the political representatives of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries seem to have chosen politics not as a definitive ‘career’, but rather as a means to elevate their professional track record and prestige. Highest-level politics was not a long-term game for most of its players. The high rate of turnover in the composition of parliaments during the period is complemented by entangled career paths, in which central representative positions usually cover a fairly short time span of a few years, frequently followed by a return to one’s original professional field (sometimes to a higher position) and to local politics. Interconnections between the legislative and executive powers have made it possible for supporters of the ruling party to swap or trade political functions for administrative ones, turning politics into a vehicle for professional and sometimes even social mobility for those who had the pecuniary means or the charisma to enter it in the first place, and the ability to successfully navigate failure, corruption and public pressure.




November 14, 2022


Opening remarks


  • Robert Luft (Collegium Carolinum, Munich), Staatsmänner, Beamte, Honoratioren, Intellektuelle und Berufspolitiker. Zu Lebenswegen und zu politischen Karrieren im Wiener Parlament vor 1914


  • Book Launch - in cooperation with the Austrian Academy of Sciences/Institute for Habsburg and Balkan Studies (IHB/ÖAW) and the Österreichisches Kulturforum Prag: Die Protokolle des Cisleithanischen Ministerrates, Volume II (1. 1. 1868 – 21. 11. 1871) and Volume III/1 (25. 11. 1871 – 23. 4. 1872).
    • Opening greetings by Andreas Schmidinger, director of the Österreichisches Kulturforum Prag
    • Anatol Schmied-Kowarzik (IHB/ÖAW): Was von den cisleithanischen Ministerratsprotokollen 1867–1918 erhalten geblieben ist
    • Richard Lein (IHB/ÖAW): Vorstellung der Bände
    • Stephan Kurz (IHB/ÖAW): Applikation und Datenmodell der Ministerratsprotokolle-Edition


November 15, 2022


Chair: Martin Klečacký (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Prague)

  • Daniela Mârza (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Prague), Kinship and personal ties as part of the power networks amid the parliamentary elites in interwar Transylvania
  • Étienne Boisserie (INALCO, Paris), The 1918’s Slovak Club as marking point of political and cultural shifts of the Slovak patriotic milieu in the first 20th Century
  • Zoltán Taschek (Eötvös Loránd University, Budapest), The path of Hungarian Catholic priest-politician József Vass from social mobilisation to social policy

10.30–11.00: Coffee break


Chair: Andrei Sora (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Prague)

  • Ela Bauer (Kibbutzim College of Education, Technology, and the Arts in Tel Aviv), From Jewish Journalistic Path to Zionist Political Path. The Shift of Eastern European Jewish Journalists in to Zionist Political Career
  • Lothar Höbelt (University of Vienna), Newspapermen and the Emergence of professional politicians in the Habsburg Monarchy
  • Orel Beilinson (Yale University), Choosing (?) a Political career in European autobiographies, 1848–1914

12.30–14.00: Lunch


Chair: Alice Velková (Faculty of Science of Charles University in Prague)

  • Franz Adlgasser (Austrian Academy of Sciences – Institute for Habsburg and Balkan Studies), Lawyers and Bureaucrats. Different Career Paths of Austrian Parliamentarians, 1861–1918)
  • Lukas Moll (Kommission für Geschichte des Parlamentarismus und der politischen Parteien e.V., Berlin), The "Parliamentary Family". Family Structure as a Fundamental Condition for the Professionalization of Politics in the German Empire (1871–1918)
  • Irena Selišnik (University of Ljubljana), Political Elites in Carnolia: Between Professionalization, Polarization and Local/Urban Division

15.30–16.00: Coffee break


Round table Social mobility and networks: Biographical sketches

Chair: Vlad Popovici (Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, Prague)

  • Szilvia Czinege (Eötvös Loránd Research Network-Research Centre for the Institute of History, Budapest), Count George Apponyi (1808–1899)
  • Jens Crueger (former MdBB), Ludwig Windthorst (1812–1891)
  • Alice Velková (Faculty of Science of Charles University in Prague), Josef Viktorin Krofta (1845-1892)
  • Adrian-Bogdan Ceobanu (Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași), Dimitrie I. Ghica (1848–1914)
  • László Vörös (Institute of History, Slovak Academy of Science, Bratislava), Samuel Czambel (1856–1909)
  • Amirpasha Tavakkoli (Sciences Po Toulouse), Jean Jaurès (1859–1914)
  • James McSpadden (University of Nevada, Reno), Rudolf Hilferding (1877–1941)


Conclusions of the workshop


Programme committee:

Alice Velková, Faculty of Science, Charles University (

Andrei Florin Sora, University of Bucharest / Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, v. v. i. (

Martin Klečacký, Masaryk Institute and Archives of the CAS, v. v. i. (


Programme (PDF)

Call for Papers (PDF)