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Debating societies emerged in London in the early eighteenth century, and were a prominent feature of society until the end of the century. The origins of the debating societies are not certain, but by the mid-18th century, London fostered an active debating culture. Topics ranged from current events and governmental policy, to love and marriage, and the societies welcomed participants from both genders and all social backgrounds, exemplifying the enlarged public sphere of the Age of Enlightenment.

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  • London Debating Societies
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  • Debating societies emerged in London in the early eighteenth century, and were a prominent feature of society until the end of the century. The origins of the debating societies are not certain, but by the mid-18th century, London fostered an active debating culture. Topics ranged from current events and governmental policy, to love and marriage, and the societies welcomed participants from both genders and all social backgrounds, exemplifying the enlarged public sphere of the Age of Enlightenment.
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  • Debating societies emerged in London in the early eighteenth century, and were a prominent feature of society until the end of the century. The origins of the debating societies are not certain, but by the mid-18th century, London fostered an active debating culture. Topics ranged from current events and governmental policy, to love and marriage, and the societies welcomed participants from both genders and all social backgrounds, exemplifying the enlarged public sphere of the Age of Enlightenment. At the end of the century, the political environment created by the French Revolution led to the tightening of governmental restrictions. The debating societies declined, and they virtually disappeared by the beginning of the nineteenth century. However, a select few societies survived to the present day, and new societies formed in recent years have been boosted by promotion via the internet and social media, giving debating in London a new lease on life. Scholarship on London's debating societies is hindered by the lack of records left by the societies, but the work of historian Donna T. Andrew, among others, has contributed to the field.
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