|This article may be expanded with text translated from the corresponding article in the French Wikipedia. (November 2010)|
Société d'émulation is a name given from the 18th century onwards to some learned societies of men in France, Wallonia and Flanders wishing to study together in the arts, science and letters and often to publish the results of their reflections and their works in a bulletin, review or Acts. They were also social and creative organisations formed of a province's cultural elites. The 19th century was the golden age of Sociétés d'émulation and some of them, with their social aspects and particular costumes, have survived up to the present day.
Mainly made up of amateurs and local notables, these societies preferred the less ambitious term 'Société d'émulation' to the more scholarly and official title of 'Académie', partly since 'Société d'émulation' indicated their attachment to more limited research within the borders of their society's region. Their ambitions were not as universal as the academies, but their publications and works remain a mine of documentatary evidence and very rich accounts of subjects often neglected by the more scholarly academies.