Synopses & Reviews
This book explores the origins of the influential view of modern society that places a "middle class" at its center, as it developed in Britain during the so-called "Industrial Revolution." Using a wider variety of sources and closer methods of textual analysis than previous studies of languages of class, the author develops a nuanced model for the interplay of social reality and social language. He demonstrates that a "middle class"-based language of social description did not simply reflect changes in social structure, but was rather the outcome of political circumstances in a period of radical political change.
"Dror Wahrman's richly documented history of how conceptions of the middle class informed political argument...confirms once more the power of linguistic analysis to illuminate the past. At the same time, Imagining the Middle Class makes it clear that such modes of inquiry will only be of major benefit to social historians when they are able to advance our understanding of political action and private conduct. To that end, we shall have to match Wahrman's skillful dissection of what was said with an equally penetrating look at who was doing the talking." Journal of Social History"Wahrman's subtle analysis of the role of the middle class in early-19th-century Britain breaks new ground....Wahrman's study is an excellent attempt at rethinking the nature of political change in modern society." Choice"...the book is a contribution to the recent theory wars on 'the correspondence between social being and social consciousness.' This is an outstanding piece of research and analysis that makes an important contribution to our understanding of the political and intellectual history of this period." John Smail, American Journal of Sociology"Unafraid of big questions and controversial answers, Imagining the Middle Class is an intelligent, provocative piece of work, one that deserves a wide audience." Albion"...the historic tale he weaves is for the most part a convincing one, and that his book removes one more cornerstone of the edifice of nineteenth-century British History." Miles Taylor, International Labor and Working-Class History"Hopefully, this book will inspire historians to ask some new and searching questions about how bread and butter history, consciousness and the conscious historian interact and cohere (or fail to cohere)." Margaret R. Hunt, Victorian Studies
A radically new interpretation of political and social concepts during the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
A radical interpretation of political and social concepts during the Industrial Revolution in Britain.
This book explores the origins of the view of modern society that places a âmiddle classâat its centre, as it developed in Britain during the Industrial Revolution. It responds to the newly fashionable and rapidly expanding field of middle class studies, while challenging its fundamental assumptions and offering radically new methods and perspectives.
Using a wider variety of sources and methods of textual analysis than previous studies, this work explores the origins of the influential view of modern society that places a "middle class" at its center, as it developed in Britain during the so-called "Industrial Revolution."
Table of Contents
1. Imagining the 'middle class': an introduction; Part I. Against the Tide: Prelude to the 1790s: was the French Revolution a 'bourgeois revolution'?; 2. The uses of 'middle class' language in the 1790s; 3. Friends and foes of the 'middle class': the dialogic imagination; 4. The political differentiation of social language: the debate on the triple assessment; Postlude to the 1790s: the uses of 'bourgeois revolution'; Part II. The Tug of War: 5. Taming the 'middle class'; 6. The tug of war and its resolution; Part III. With the Tide: 7. The social construction of the middle class; 8. The parallels across the Channel: a French aside; 9. The debates on the Reform Bill: bowing to a new representation of the 'middle class'; 10. Inventing the ever-rising 'middle class': the aftermath of 1832; 11. 1832 and the 'middle class' conquest of the 'private sphere'; Epilogue.