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Title: Propertied society and public life : the social history of Birmingham, 1780-1832
Author: Smith, Harry John
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2013
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Social history has been much criticised over the past thirty years. This criticism and the consequent turn to cultural history have brought many advances, developing our understanding of the language, discourse, ritual and culture. However, it has also led to a neglect of structural factors and a turn away from the study of collectivities. This has meant that many subjects that class used to explain (social difference, social relationships and collective actions) are often ignored or undertheorized in current historical scholarship. This thesis examines one of these issues: how should historians understand and analyse the process of social-group formation? It does this through a case study of propertied society in Birmingham between 1780 and 1832. Propertied society is a loose category that does not have the connotations of concepts such as ‘middle class’. This thesis suggests that there were many different types of social group and that historians need to differentiate between them when analysing past societies. The most important distinction is between groups who shared attributes and groups that acted together. However, there was no simple relationship between attributes and actions; individuals who shared attributes did not necessarily act in the same way. The first part of the thesis (chapters 1-3) discusses who was included within the category of propertied society and the social and geographical understandings of those individuals. The second part of the thesis (chapters 4-6) moves from the general material and cultural structures of propertied society to consider three case studies that examine a number of processes by which individuals came together to form groups focused on particular discourses, institutions and events. The three case studies discuss the family and the transfer of social knowledge (chapter 4), local government and the nature of elites (chapter 5), and the process of politicization through examining membership of the Birmingham Political Union (chapter 6).
Supervisor: Innes, Joanna Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Economic and Social History ; History of Britain and Europe ; Eighteenth-Century Britain and Europe ; Modern Britain and Europe ; Birmingham ; social history