Society and Economy in Modern Britain, 1700-1850

Society and Economy in Modern Britain, 1700-1850

Society and Economy in Modern Britain, 1700-1850

Society and Economy in Modern Britain, 1700-1850

Synopsis

Both contemporaries and later historians viewed the Industrial Revolution as a 'turning point' in modern British history. No doubt a change occurred, but what was the nature of that change and how did it affect rural and urban society? In this, the first part of his two-volume history of nineteenth-century Britain, Richard Brown examines the economic and social aspects of the Industrial Revolution in the larger context of British history. Treating developments in Wales, Scotland, and Ireland, as well as those in England, Society and Economy in Modern Britain 1700-1850 is distinguished by its emphasis on the diversity of experience -- the continuity as well as change -- in this crucial period of development. Ideal textbooks for the study of British nineteenth-century history, both Society and Economy in Modern Britain and Church and State in Modern Britain are written in a lively andaccessible style. Taken as a pair, they provide a comprehensive look at the social ramifications of technological change.

Excerpt

‘What is history?’, asked Robert Lowell in his Notebooks 1967-68, and with the wisdom of the poet he responded: ‘What you cannot touch.’ Into the fabric of our own existence we incorporate the records and the multifarious expressions of thought and action of past peoples and social groups. They put us in touch with human history and yet they do not enable us to touch that history alive. They compel us to listen and yet their sound alone cannot bring us fully within hearing presence of the word of history. Intangible and inaudible though it is, this historical reality, this sense of ‘pastness’ is nevertheless formatively present in our lives and reflections. Lowell’s question remains to incite us to improve our understanding of that past and his answer also stands as a caution against any belief that we can fully discover what happened and why.

People study history for many reasons but all have in common a need to explain and understand past societies. We ask questions, many of which have their origins in our own present-day experience, like how did individuals react to rapid change, why did society change so slowly, what was it like to live then, have people’s needs changed, what was the nature of belief or power and how did people register their protest against the action or inaction of those in government? In attempting to answer questions like these it seems to me perfectly legitimate to use ideas and methodologies from disciplines other than history. We may begin to understand people in the past by examining, for example, the social sciences, geography, technology, science and philosophy. We may develop ‘models’ which can be applied to past events and people. But they must always be grounded in the available sources of information, the raw data from which historians draw their conclusions.

Society and Economy in Modern Britain is the first of two volumes which consider the economic, social and political history of Britain from the beginning of the eighteenth century until 1850. Two further volumes will bring the story up to date. It is aimed at students studying A or AS Level examinations and first-year students at university or college. This book covers the history of Britain from the beginning of the eighteenth century through to the mid-nineteenth century. It provides an explanation . . .

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