The Home-Making of the English Working Class: Radical Politics and Domestic Life in late-Georgian England, c.1790-1820.
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This thesis explores how ‘home’, as both an idea and a physical space, operated in the formation and expression of popular political radicalism in late-eighteenth and early nineteenth century England. With a regional focus on London and the South Pennine areas of Lancashire and Yorkshire, the thesis intervenes in a rich historiography of popular radicalism in this period to argue for the importance of everyday practice in bringing together and sustaining a beleaguered movement, especially during periods of repression. In doing so, it offers new perspectives on the importance of the intersections of class and gender within radicalism, and sheds new light on the crucial and underappreciated role of women. Home could offer opportunities for political involvement, but could also restrict the emancipatory possibilities open to women in particular. The thesis unpacks ideas and practices associated with the home, including family relationships, consumer practice, and the use of objects, to expose it as an insecure and unstable site from which to launch a campaign for political legitimacy. Because ‘home’ was embedded in so many moralistic and political discourses, its deployment could be politically powerful, but could also hinder attempts to thoroughly rethink the social norms which underpinned classed and gendered inequalities. Throughout, however, the thesis stresses the continued unknowability of many aspects of working-class domestic life and the problematic nature of the sources we use to interrogate it, arguing for continued sustained work to unpick the diversity in the nature and meanings of home for working-class people in this period.
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