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Speaking for the People


  • 7 tables
  • Page extent: 304 pages
  • Size: 228 x 152 mm
  • Weight: 0.62 kg

Library of Congress

  • Dewey number: 324/.0941/09034
  • Dewey version: 21
  • LC Classification: DA560 .L29 1998
  • LC Subject headings:
    • Great Britain--Politics and government--1837-1901
    • English language--Political aspects--Great Britain
    • Great Britain--Politics and government--1901-1936
    • Political parties--Great Britain--History
    • Popular culture--Great Britain--History

Library of Congress Record

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 (ISBN-13: 9780521470346 | ISBN-10: 052147034X)

DOI: 10.2277/052147034X

Manufactured on demand: supplied direct from the printer

 (Stock level updated: 17:00 GMT, 30 November 2015)


Speaking for the People, first published in 1998, draws our attention to the problematic nature of politicians' claims to represent others, and in doing so it challenges conventional ideas about both the rise of class politics, and the triumph of party between 1867 and 1914. The book emphasises the strongly gendered nature of party politics before the First World War, and suggests that historians have greatly underestimated the continuing importance of the 'politics of place'. Most importantly, however, Speaking for the People argues that we must break away from teleological notions such as the 'modernisation' of politics, the taming of the 'popular', or the rise of class. Only then will we understand the shifting currents of popular politics. Speaking for the People represents a major challenge to the ways in which historians and political scientists have studied the interaction between party politics and popular political cultures.

• Challenges our understanding of the emergence of Labour and the rise of class politics before 1914 • Analyses the strongly gendered (masculinist) nature of pre-1914 politics • Offers new insights into the tensions at the heart of nineteenth-century Liberalism


Preface; Abbreviations; Introduction; Part I. Rethinking Popular Politics: 1. From the rise of 'demos' to the rise of 'class'; 2. Working-class homogeneity reconsidered; 3. Relocating popular politics; Part II. A Local Study: Wolverhampton, c.1860–1914: 4. Liberal hegemony and its critics; 5. Popular Toryism and the origins of Labour politics; 6. Labour and the working class, 1890–1914; Part III. Party Games, 1885–1914: 7. Popular politics and the limitations of party; 8. The fall and the rise of popular Liberalism, 1886–1906; 9. Labour roots, Labour voices, Labour myths; Conclusion; Bibliography.


'This is a bold, intelligent, and highly readable book. Lawrence tilts at three central conventions of his period: the rise of class politics, the triumph of party and 'modernization' … this important contribution, rich in ideas, deserves to be widely read … Lawrence successfully weaves these disparate strands into a coherent and challenging thesis. In opening up several new fronts in the study of pre-1914 urban politics, this book demonstrates the continued vitality of a well-worn theme.' Economic History Review

'Speaking for the People is an impressive addition to the history of popular politics, which mounts a significant challenge to past work on political modernisation, the advent of party and the rise of class.' James Thompson, History Workshop Journal

' … a remarkably dense, suggestive, bold and ambitious book which deserves wide and careful attention from all those interested in the social and political histories of 19th and 20th century Britain '. Reviews in History

'This is a rich and challenging book, which repays careful reading by a wide audience interested in the role of locales - how they are made and remade - in the constitution of British social, political and cultural life … I strongly recommend it.' Economic and Political Areas

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