Violence and Crime in Nineteenth-Century England: The Shadow of Our Refinement

Violence and Crime in Nineteenth-Century England: The Shadow of Our Refinement

Violence and Crime in Nineteenth-Century England: The Shadow of Our Refinement

Violence and Crime in Nineteenth-Century England: The Shadow of Our Refinement

Synopsis

This book illuminates the origins and development of violence as a social issue by examining a critical period in the evolution of attitudes towards violence. It explores the meaning of violence through an accessible mixture of detailed empirical research and a broad survey of cutting-edge historical theory.The author discusses topics such as street fighting, policing, sports, community discipline and domestic violence and shows how the nineteenth century established enduring patterns in views of violence. Violence and Crime in Nineteenth-Century England will be essential reading for advanced students and researchers of modern British history, social and cultural history and criminology.

Excerpt

I began researching this book with an interest in the way that the boundaries around appropriate social behaviors change and a fascination with the phenomenon of violence itself. When one looks closely at the history of any type of human activity - from the intricacies of table manners to the way that societies define acceptable violent or sexual acts - the instability inherent in the most seemingly "natural" of social activities becomes apparent. Highlighting these trends can be a difficult project, as the researcher is likewise working from a position within the inherited accumulations of cultural norms. the imperatives of academic writing, with their assumption of dispassionate distance and authority, can also serve to conceal the way an author is positioned in relation to his or her subject. However, one's location in the midst of the present cultural context occurs only because of an uncountable series of highly contingent circumstances, and our perspectives on the past are inevitably affected by our own social and individual situations. Thus, it might be useful to make a few brief remarks about my own approach.

First, I find criminality to be simultaneously one of the most useful lenses on culture and society and one of the most volatile of human notions. More than three decades of English criminal history have emphasized the ways that "the law" is not merely a self-contained institution subject only to its own rules and trends. It is unquestionable that its internal workings are vitally important to understanding its development, and work done along these lines is essential to the project of criminal history. However, law is only one of the social institutions that set the boundaries between the acceptable and unacceptable, and these lines are continuously contested and shifting. Although I rely heavily upon sources created by the practice of law, my approach is more broadly cultural and located at the point at which law, popular cultures and violence interact.

Second, when beginning the present work, I faced a choice between doing a wide-ranging general survey or a narrowly focused local study. in opting for a more general appraisal of attitudes toward violence, I have faced certain advantages and disadvantages. the key advantages are the opportunity to identify and analyze large and influential trends and to engage with a variety of secondary literature on violence. the main disadvantage, of course, is that, in delineating general currents, significant regional and local variations might have been

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.