Class and Conflict in Nineteenth-Century England, 1815-1850

Class and Conflict in Nineteenth-Century England, 1815-1850

Class and Conflict in Nineteenth-Century England, 1815-1850

Class and Conflict in Nineteenth-Century England, 1815-1850

Excerpt

Marx wrote of the French peasantry in Eighteenth Brumaire:

In so far as millions of families live under economic conditions of existence that separate their mode of life, their interests and their culture from those of other classes, and put them in hostile opposition to the latter, they form a class. In so far as there is merely a local identification among these smallholding peasants, and the identity of their interests begets no community, no national bond and no political organization among them, they do not form a class.

Marx makes it clear that a common economic mode of existence is a necessary but not sufficient ingredient of class; what is crucial is a consciousness of class, an attitude or stance to other groups in the community. Class on this account is essentially a relationship, an experience and not just an economic location.

It is with this in mind that I have drawn these documents together. They do not provide a history of working-class movements in this period; they are certainly not an account of what 'really happened' to the impoverished and vulnerable in society during the first half of the nineteenth century. What I believe they illustrate are the attitudes and relationships of working men towards each other and against other groups in society. I have therefore brought the material under three headings: what I have called the analysis of class in terms of economic and political theory; class relations in the years between the end of the French wars and the move into mid-Victorianism; and finally, the response to the more disturbing aspects of class by the appropriate vehicles of social control, religion, education and philanthropy, mechanisms, among other things, for inculcating values more conducive to social stability and class harmony. The proportion of material devoted to the first of these parts, and the juxtaposition of the material in the third part, represent the claims of the book perhaps to its novelty and hopefully to its utility.

Several things follow from this. 'Events' are covered only in so . . .

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.