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Title: The landed interest and the education of the English working class 1807-1833 : a sociological study of aristocratic debate and policy.
Author: Stephens, Paul Anthony.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3480 5710
Awarding Body: Royal Holloway, University of London
Current Institution: Royal Holloway, University of London
Date of Award: 1987
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This thesis presents a sociological analysis of the impact of decisions taken by the English landed interest in Parliament on Popular Education during the early nineteenth century. Until (and even beyond) the Reform Act of 1832, Government policy on the education of the working class was deliberated upon by a ruling class whose political ascendancy was rooted in land. The role of this "landed aristocracy" during the emergent phase of mass schooling has been obfuscated by a tendency among historians to emphasise the pioneering spirit of middle class educational reformers. While landed MPs and peers heeded this pioneering spirit, aristocratic policy decisions mirrored aristocratic perceptions about the anticipated consequences of educational reform. Moreover, these perceptions addressed contemporary economic and demographic trends. Reform-minded aristocrats argued that the development of Popular Education under rate support and Parliamentary aid would encourage the poor to become the arbiters of their own fortune. This, it was claimed, would be an important step towards the rationalisation of Poor Law relief, which weighed heavily on the shoulders of the landed interest. The reformists also proposed a more bureaucratic approach to the investigation and management of existing educational resources. Traditionalist aristocrats retorted that these measures might undermine the legitimacy of the old order. The spectre of the rural poor abandoning the plough and rising above their station was never far from the minds of Tory gentry and "backwoods" peers. The traditionalists further protested that the abrogation of "noblesse oblige" was strongly implicated in the reformist argument for State intervention. There ensued a struggle in Parliament (where evangelical sentiments were also discernible) during which the reformist lobby began to prevail against conservative resistance. In this way, as in other areas of English life, a section of the ruling class presided over the dismantling of ancient custom and played an active role in social reform.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available