Property ownership and the development of capitalism, 1840-1980 : a case study of a Suffolk parish
Much has been written in recent years about the role of landownership in British society and, particularly, in structuring the social relations of 'rural' areas. There has also been a growing interest in the way social processes are 'patterned' geographically and are themselves shaped by contingent spatial circumstances. This thesis has two basic aims First, to examine the changing role of landownership - specifically, the relationship between capital and land - in the processes of economic restructuring in three economic sectors: agriculture, housebuilding and manufacturing. Second, to evaluate marxist rent theory as an explanatory tool for understanding the capital-land relationship, and draw some conclusions on the extent to which this theory can be operationalised. Finally, we will consider whether the capital-land relation imparts a unique stamp on the social processes effective in one specific location, a stamp which gives it a distinctiveness as a 'locality'. Landownership is therefore used as a way of examining the links between spatial relations and social processes, of probing the relationship between 'general' changes at the level of the British nation state and changes in one concrete location. The thesis takes as its case study a parish in West Suffolk and considers the way the capital-land relation has changed since the mid-nineteenth century, continually drawing on an analysis of the changes in Britain as a whole. Conclusions are drawn on the utility of rent theory, on the nature of 'locality' and on the role of landownership in structuring the social relations of contemporary 'rural' areas.