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Title: The Working Men's Club and Institute Union and the Independent Labour Party : working class organisation, politics and culture c. 1880-1914
Author: Ashplant, T. G.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3430 4713
Awarding Body: University of Sussex
Current Institution: University of Sussex
Date of Award: 1983
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This thesis explores the political and cultural needs and desires of the British working class in the period 1880-1914. It argues that these led to attempts by groups within the working class to influence the shape of the society in which they lived, by collective initiaAves aimed at establishing enduring institutions. Political movements were prominent among these; but they too are illuminated by situating them among the wider cultural movements with which they were in fact closely meshed. Two such initiatives were the reshaping of the Club & Institute Union (CIT), and its member clubs, by the expulsion of middle class patrons around 1880; and the founding of the independent Labour Party (ILP) in 1893, out of disillusionment with the unwillingness of the Liberal Party to provide for working class aspirations. These two organisations were chosen as being, at first sight, very different - one concerned primarily with sociability (especially the provision of drink), the other with winning political power by fighting elections. However, a closer examination of their histories reveals a shared constellation of concerns - politics, education, welfare, recreation - which both organisations struggled to sustain. Only for brief moments could such a "combinatory culture" be maintained; but even when it collapsed, the same impulses continued to find expression. Thus struggles over institutional form, which at first sight appear purely organisational (such as federalism, or methods of financing), also constituted struggles over wider issues of politics and culture. Ch. 1 outlines the methods of investigation used in the thesis; and delineates the situation of the working class in late nineteenth century society. Chs. 2 and 3 examine the institutional histories and organisational structures of the CIU and the ILP respectively. Ch. 4 compares the geographical distributions of each organisation with the other, and with a matrix based on the industrial regions of Britain. Ch. 5 analyses the social composition of both organisations, with particular reference to their activists. Chs. 6 and 7 examine regional similarities and divergences within the CIU and the ILP respectively. Ch. 8 traces the transition from the Liberal-Radicalism characteristic of politically-active waking men in the 1880s to the socialism and independent labour movement of the 1890s and the formation and consolidation of the Labour Party in the 1900s. Ch. 9 examines the wide-ranging and ambitious patterns of culture established by both organisations. Ch. 10 draws conclusions about the difficulties and opportunities for the late nineteenth century British working class in shaping the society within which it existed.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: History