People, place and party : the Social Democratic Federation, 1884-1911
This study presents a social and political history of the Social Democratic Federation from the early 1880s to the end of the Edwardian era with a focus on the London area. The SDF has often been portrayed as an intransigent and alien organisation by the existing historiography but this study outlines the relationship between the political journey of individual members, the constraints and potential of the local area and the resultant politics of the SDF as an organisation. With the aid of under-utilised sources such as branch minutes and publications this thesis builds a profile of SDF membership in London and the factors affecting membership in the metropolis. There then follows sections on branch culture and propaganda followed by chapters on the cultural/political questions of gender, religion and education. The second half of the thesis deals with the more political questions of strategy, ideology, internationalism (and racism), trade unionism and relations with the Labour Party. The title 'People, Place and Party' is meant to indicate the tension between those elements that affect the development of an organisation. With an awareness of these elements and by using a breadth of source material it is possible to overcome the obstacle of the 'dogmatic' stereotype of the SDF.