6.7 Ideologies of Change and Reform Movements

3 min readfebruary 12, 2023

Sharii Liang

Sharii Liang

Jillian Holbrook

Jillian Holbrook

AP European History 🇪🇺

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The "Age of -Isms"

The 19th century is often regarded as the “Age of -Isms,” and for good reason. During this century, many political ideologies appeared and had -isms at the end. The main political ones were conservatism, nationalism, liberalism, socialism, and feminism. This section covers everything after conservatism.


Feminism believed in universal suffrage for both men and women as well as natural rights for both men and women. 🗳️ This political movement emerged from rising protests for universal male suffrage and the Cult of Domesticity enforcing traditional gender roles.🤰

Flora Tristan

Flora Tristan (1803-1844) was a French writer and activist who was influential in the early feminist and socialist movements. She was born to a wealthy family but was forced to marry at a young age, leading to an unhappy and abusive marriage. After leaving her husband, she began writing and campaigning for women's rights and workers' rights. She traveled extensively to give speeches and organize labor unions, but Tristan is best known for her book "The Workers' Union," which called for the establishment of a utopian socialist society.


Liberalism emphasized popular sovereignty, individual rights, and enlightened self-interest, but its proponents debated the extent to which all groups in society should actively participate in governance.
As conservatism slowly, but surely, began collapsing, more and more liberal movements emerged. They emphasized problems with voting rights, the social hierarchy, economic stratification, and an overbearing government. Multiple groups formed to raise awareness of these issues and change the status quo, supporting different views on how the problems should be solved! Liberalism was often supported by the bourgeoisie, not the working class. 💸


Nationalism transcended social classes as a political and social ideology that emphasizes the importance of the nation or the cultural and ethnic identity of a people. It can manifest in a range of beliefs and practices, including the promotion of national interests and culture, the defense of national sovereignty, and the belief that the nation is the primary unit of political organization.
Nationalism can take many forms, from civic nationalism, which emphasizes shared values and citizenship, to ethnic nationalism, which emphasizes common ancestry or language. Nationalists became especially prominent in the German and Italian states attempting to unify themselves and form independent nations.
Nationalism has been a major force in the modern history of many countries, playing a significant role in struggles for independence, the formation of nation-states, and conflicts between nations. While nationalism can serve to unite people and provide a sense of identity and purpose, it has also fueled conflicts and exclusivist attitudes toward other groups.


Socialism also emerged during this time period, but it appealed to the proletariat much more than the bourgeoisie. Socialists prized equality and fairness above all else and believed in working together, which differs from liberalism’s belief in individuality. ⚖️
Overall, socialists called for the redistribution of society’s resources and wealth, shifting from a utopian to a Marxist scientific critique of capitalism. Despite how similar socialism is to liberalism, the two ideologies disliked each other quite a bit.

Prominent Advocates of the -Isms


Political Party


John Stuart Mill & Jeremy Bentham
Economic freedom, individual rights, and utilitarianism (governments should do whatever provides the most pleasure for the largest amount of people)
Achieve universal male suffrage (working-class males demanding rights)
Flora Tristan
Advocated women’s rights and feminism (progression of female rights is directly influenced by the progress of the working class)
Robert Owen
Utopian Socialism
Tried to improve working conditions for his factory workers and believed in cooperation, not competition (created a cooperative society called New Lanark)
Henri de Saint-Simon
Utopian Socialism
Argued that socialism was necessary for industrial development and that the workers should be in charge of production
Friedrich Engels & Karl Marx
History is just a cycle of bourgeoisie and proletariat conflict. The working class needs to rise up and take over the means of production.
Clara Zetkin
A leader of socialist women who educated women to get them politically involved
Georges Sorel
Believed Marxism cannot work and supported violence as a means of defense or in revolts
Mikhail Bakunin
Founder of collectivist anarchism (abolition of both state and private ownership)
Browse Study Guides By Unit
🎨Unit 1 – Renaissance & Exploration
⛪️Unit 2 – Reformation
👑Unit 3 – Absolutism & Constitutionalism
🤔Unit 4 – Scientific, Philosophical, & Political Developments
🥖Unit 5 – Conflict, Crisis, & Reaction in the Late 18th Century
🚂Unit 6 – Industrialization & Its Effects
Unit 7 – 19th Century Perspectives & Political Developments
💣Unit 8 – 20th Century Global Conflicts
🥶Unit 9 – Cold War & Contemporary Europe
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