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Title: Constructing a conservative : the reception of Edmund Burke in British politics and culture, c. 1830-1914
Author: Jones, Emily
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2015
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Between 1830 and 1914 in Britain a dramatic modification of the reputation of Edmund Burke (1730-97) occurred. Burke, an Irishman and Whig politician, is now most commonly known as the 'founder of modern conservatism' – an intellectual tradition which is also deeply connected to the identity of the British Conservative party. Indeed, the idea of 'Burkean conservatism’ – a political philosophy which upholds ‘the authority of tradition', the organic, historic conception of society, and the necessity of order, religion, and property – has been incredibly influential both in international academic analysis and in the wider political world. This is an intellectual construct of high significance, but its origins have not hitherto been understood: insofar as it has been considered at all, it has been typically seen as the work of Cold War American conservatives. In contrast, this thesis demonstrates that the transformation of Burke into the 'founder of conservatism' was in fact part of wider developments in British political, intellectual, and cultural history in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Drawing from a wide range of sources, including political texts, parliamentary speeches, histories, biographies, and educational curricula, this thesis provides a properly contextual history of political thought. It shows how and why Burke's reputation was transformed over a formative period of British history. In doing so, it bridges the significant gap between the history of political thought as conventionally understood and the history of the making of political traditions. The result is to show that, by 1914, Burke had been firmly established as a 'conservative' political philosopher and was admired and utilised by political Conservatives in Britain who identified themselves as his intellectual heirs. This was one essential component of a conscious re-working of 'C/conservatism', especially from the mid-1880s, which is still at work today.
Supervisor: Ghosh, Peter Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Modern Britain and Europe ; History of Britain and Europe ; History ; Intellectual History ; Edmund Burke ; Conservatism ; Conservative Party ; Victorian Political Thought ; British Intellectual History ; Nineteenth-Century Political History