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Title: " ... of inestimable value to the town and district?" : a study of the urban middle classes in south Wales with particular reference to Pontypool, Bridgend and Penarth, c.1850-1890
Author: Light, J. M.
Awarding Body: University of Wales Swansea
Current Institution: Swansea University
Date of Award: 2003
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This thesis considers the evidence to suggest that there was an influential middle-class presence in nineteenth-century urban south Wales, focusing particularly on the period c.1850-1890. It asks whether interpretations which view the middle classes in Wales as either insignificant or ‘anglicised’ need to be modified. It considers problems of definition with regard to the middle classes, and seeks to establish their numbers and geographical origins. The research focuses on three towns, Pontypool, Bridgend and Penarth, using a wide range of contemporary sources to gather detailed information about middle-class individuals who were active in each town. Evidence for the formation of class-consciousness within the middle classes is assessed by considering aspects of life such as residential segregation, education, leisure and religious and political affiliations. We examine how members of the middle classes constructed a public persona in order to maintain their social and political position in the town, and the role of the local newspaper is considered in relation to this, with an assessment of the effectiveness of its ‘surveillance’. The relationships between the middle classes and those above and below them in the social scale are analysed through an examination of attitudes towards the holding of local power, ambition for social status, recreation, education, politics and welfare. Was the urban necessarily an arena for challenge and class conflict, or could reciprocal relationships continue to operate in the urban arena as they had done in deferential ‘traditional’ societies? Analysis centres on whether the concept of place crucially affects our understanding of class relationships. The thesis goes on the consider the role of the middle classes in local government and the provision of facilities and amenities in the towns. Finally, it assesses the overall significance and value of their contribution to urban development in the second half of the nineteenth century.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available