Continuity and change in agrarian organisation in north-west England 1100-1800
This thesis expiores two approaches to historicai peography in
terms of their interpretations of the themes of continuity and change
in agrarian organisation on specific estates in North-west Fngiand over
the period 1100 to 1800. The approaches are identified with two separate
philosophical traditions within historical geography: one is an approach
which may be loosely associated with the positivist modei of explanation,
the other can be linked to the marxian-humanist tradition.
These perspectives frame the empirical content of the thesis. In
Part One an evaiuation of the muitipie-estate modei of C. P. J. Jones is
presented as an iiiustration of the use of the positivist model of explanation
in historicai geography. Foiiowing a rigorous definition of this
modei, two case studies are presented: in neither does the modei provide
us with an adequate description of reaiity. This, together with (i) the
probiems associater3 with positivism and (2) the type of historicai
geography produced within such a framework, 'Leads to the abandonment of
the muitipie estate modei as an adequate heuristic tcol.
The approach adopted in Part '". wo emerges from the probiems
discussed in Part One and from a consideration of phiiosophicai debate
as conducted in human and historicai geography. Pesearch is restructured
around the theme of the transition towards aararian capitaiism and reflects
I-larxist debate over this issue and Istructurationist' concepts.
The theoretical framework adopted is outlined in Chapter Three. In
Chapters Four to Seven the evidence for the transition in North-west
Fnpland is examined. The transition is show to involve (1) changes in
the social structure framinp landlord - tenant relations and (2) the
necessity of situatinp research within the context provided by the sociai
structures of specific estates.
Tn Chapter Eight both approaches are contrasted and evaluated in
reiation to the themes of continuity and change.