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Parliamentarism and encyclopaedism: how Parliaments produce and elaborate knowledge

The paper focuses on the tendency for parliaments to produce and organize knowledge according to comprehensive “encyclopaedic” patterns. This feature can be traced back to the origins of modern parliamentarism and can be studied together with the parallel emergence of the great national encyclopaedias as one of the predominant intellectual enterprises of the XIX century bourgeoisie. The paper maintains that the encyclopaedic pattern is still relevant to understandhow parliaments operate in contemporary democracies, even if we have to takein due consideration the “paradigm shifts” undergone by parliamentary representation from the XVIII century to the contemporary age. The paper will start from a short consideration of the essential features that have marked the origins of modern encyclopaedism with the pathbreaking work of Diderot and D’Alambert; it will then discuss some analogies between the success ofencyclopaedism especially in XIX century Europe and the emergence of parliamentarism as the form of government of the liberal bourgeoisie;subsequently, it will focus on the changes occurred in the “parliamentary encyclopaedia” in the XX century; finally, the paper will address the radicalchallenges posed to the parliamentary encyclopaedia in contemporary societies.

Giovanni Rizzoni, "Parliamentarism and encyclopaedism:how Parliaments produce andelaborate knowledge". SOG Working Paper 65, February 2021.