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Title: Voluntary associations and the middle class in Edinburgh, 1780-1820
Author: Dalgleish, Andrew J.
Awarding Body: University of Edinburgh
Current Institution: University of Edinburgh
Date of Award: 1992
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From the late 18th century there was an increase in the formation of voluntary associations in Britain and a growth in the membership of such organisations. This thesis analyses the historical significance of voluntary societies created and supported by the Edinburgh middle class between 1780 and 1820. Chapter Two outlines the social structure of Edinburgh in this period. Using categorised occupational titles from the Post Office Directories, the diversity of the middle class, and the preponderance of small units of production and retailing is emphasised. Chapter Three contextualises the changing typical cultural form of elite voluntary associations from relatively small, exclusivist, ephemeral and introverted organisations to more open 'subscriber democracies' which publicly projected their aims and aspired to gain social authority. The next three chapters examine the impetus, aims, institutional practices and memberships of key voluntary societies in the fields of policing and poor relief, religion and education. It is argued that the cultural production of such organisations was crucial for the mediation of power within and between classes during this period of rapid social change. Although elite-led, voluntary associations provided concensual platforms of common interest for the Edinburgh middle class, appealing to their shared concerns about commercial prosperity, discrimination in the distribution of resources, and the supervision of the poor. Chapter Seven uses techniques of nominal record linkage to provide quantitative evidence of the social characteristics of membership of various types of Societies. The over-representation of the legal/commercial elite, and the under-representation of lower middle class groups compared to their proportion in the middle class as a whole is emphasised. Interconnections between certain types of membership lend substance to the argument for a growing cohesiveness of middle class organisation. The thesis contributes to our understanding of the dynamics of middle class formation in the early 19th century. The creation of a self-aware and socially confident middle class by the 1820s was partly due to their participation in voluntary associations which claimed to be representative of Edinburgh inhabitants in ways which local state and parish-based authorities could not be.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available