Consciousness and Class Experience in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Consciousness and Class Experience in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Consciousness and Class Experience in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Consciousness and Class Experience in Nineteenth-Century Europe

Excerpt

The nineteenth century has been called "the bourgeois century," the "Age of Revolution," and "the rebellious century." It was all three, as each of these characterizations shows one of the century's dimensions. Bourgeois, revolutionary, and rebellious, the nineteenth century in Europe was a period of intense change; in it the economic, social and political structure of the continent was fundamentally altered. Populations rose dramatically as the peaks in mortality disappeared and levels of mortality declined. The populations living in cities increased even more rapidly. Europe urbanized. Governments centralized and bureaucratized their authority and thus expanded their effective power over their citizens--still called subjects in some places--sometimes also over their neighbors as the number of independent states declined, and even over faraway places as colonialism extended into Africa and Southeast Asia and the age of imperialism began. Large-scale industrialization changed the locations of work and residence, separating them from one another and altering patterns of leisure and social life. The railroad visibly, even dramatically improved transportation, expanding horizons and increasing consumption, and facilitated communication despite an unfortunately inauspicious beginning in 1830 when Francis Huskisson, a member of the British cabinet, was, shortly after cutting a ribbon inaugurating the Liverpool to Manchester train, run down and killed by that same train. The train even modernized political repression; some of the National Guardsmen brought from the provinces to put down the insurgents during the June Days of 1848 in Paris arrived by train. For many people and in many ways, the train became a symbol of an age.

These changes began in England but spread through much of the West. Contemporaries could not help but be acutely aware of their changing world. Manchester and Tourcoing grew up in one generation. Some people struggled to adjust to these changes, some profited from them, and some--perhaps even more--fought them; others simply tried to understand them. This was-- somewhat self-consciously--the period of the "rising bourgeoisie"--inextricably linked with the "age of liberalism." Although the bourgeoisie hardly . . .

Author Advanced search

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.