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Title: Macclesfield élites, 1832-1918
Author: Ainscough, Steven.
ISNI:       0000 0001 3403 2711
Awarding Body: University of Liverpool
Current Institution: University of Liverpool
Date of Award: 2003
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The aim of the thesis is the study of Macclesfield's economic, social and political elites between 1832 and 1918. The thesis employs a wide range of primary and secondary sources to place the elites of Macclesfield into a contextual framework established by other studies of nineteenth-century urban leadership. The town of Macclesfield itself provides an interesting subject for the analysis of elite power as its staple trade, the silk industry, has attracted less historical attention in comparison, say, to the cotton towns of Lancashire. Furthermore, the fact that Macclesfield faced cyclical economic depression and protracted decline throughout the period "meant that particular emphasis was placed upon the role of local leadership and its ability to manage the situation. A number of important issues regarding the nature of elite power are addressed in the thesis. The factors which governed the attainment and accumulation of power resources in the economic, social and political arenas are evaluated, and the question of how `open' the ranks of the elite were to subordinate members of society is considered. The study also assesses the extent of elite civic participation and attempts to ascertain the motives behind such involvement. Connectedly, the relationship between paternalism and deference is appraised. Crucially, the thesis examines the responses of the local elite to economic decline, and focuses upon the ways in which the town's leadership legitimised and maintained their authority. Furthermore, the study attempts to discover whether there was any shift in the structure of local leadership during the period. With those issues forming the basis of an investigation into the nature of elite leadership in the nineteenth century, the thesis reveals a number of significant findings. It will be shown, for instance, that elite power was, to a large extent, conditional and dependent upon a two-way process of negotiation between the town leaders and the wider community. In that sense, the study demonstrates that members of the elite had to earn deference and respect through the provision of benevolence and acts of philanthropy. The thesis also shows that there was a noticeable shift in the balance of urban leadership, whereby the earlier pattern or structure of elite leadership-dominated by the traditional paternalist employers-was gradually eroded by external factors beyond their control. The thesis explores the reasons behind that erosion of employer elite power, and examines the factors that allowed for the wider participation of subordinate members of society in the arenas of urban leadership. In view of the debates and issues addressed by the various chapters, it is hoped that the thesis makes a positive contribution to the existing body of knowledge on nineteenth-century urban leadership, and also stimulates ideas for subsequent research projects.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available