The industrial suburbs of Leeds in the nineteenth century : community consciousness among the social classes
The changing relationship between community and class has been a subject generally neglected by historians. Marxist social theory provides little framework for the examination of the significance of community in capitalist society. This study of the industrial suburbs of Leeds indicates the importance of community consciousness, both as a force moulding class relations in Victorian society, and as a cognizance itself shaped by class relations. It is argued in chapter two that the relatively monolithic culture of the clothing villages was, by the 1830's, cracking under the pressures of factory capitalism. Suburban attitudes towards community institutions and traditions became permeated and modified by class interests. Chapter three shows how deference and paternalism were fashioned in the factory politics of the 1820's and 1830's, while suburban autonomy came to be threatened by municipal centralization. Chapter five examines the changing role of patronage in suburban religion and education, and analyses petty-bourgeois perceptions of community. However there was much continuity as well as change. Chapter two argues that several characteristics of clothier culture survived industrialization. Chapter three shows how national political divisions were often subsumed by local loyalties. The long tradition of labour radicalism was partly preserved by the mid-Victorian labour aristocracy. It is argued in chapter four that their labour consciousness was firmly rooted in the local community. Petty-bourgeois community sentiment, examined in chapter five, developed from the traditions of sectarianism and localism. Deference and paternalism revived after 1848 and remained important throughout the century. However there was never a factory culture in Leeds suburbs to match that of Lancashire. In chapter six it is argued that few of the institutions of social control, constructed by patronage from the 1830's, ever gained popular acceptance. There were other 'community institutions', from dame schools to friendly societies, which were of greater importance to the fabric of out-township life. It is concluded that community consciousness was preserved by the working class both in the sense of place and of past. As class conflict developed in the industrial suburbs, so the struggle to appropriate local traditions, the sense of history, of 'milieu', and of community itself, became part of this conflict.