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Imagining the Middle Class
The Political Representation of Class in Britain, c.1780–1840

  • Date Published: July 1995
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9780521471275


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About the Authors
  • Why and how did the British people come to see themselves as living in a society centred around a middle class? The answer provided by Professor Wahrman challenges most prevalent historical narratives: the key to understanding changes in conceptualisations of society, the author argues, lies not in underlying transformations of social structure - in this case industrialisation, which supposedly created and empowered the middle class - but rather in changing political configurations. Firmly grounded in a close reading of an extensive array of sources, and supported by comparative perspectives on France and America, the book offers a nuanced model for the interplay between social reality, politics, and the languages of class.

    • This is the most extensive and detailed study to date of 'languages of class' in industrialising Britain
    • Challenges fundamental assumptions in 'middle class' studies and offers radically new methods and perspectives
    • Presents complex and important arguments in a clear and accessible style
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'For all those interested in the question whether class is best seen as a category of social and economic history or as an artefact of political discourse, Imagining the Middle Class is essential - and fascinating - reading.' Gareth Stedman Jones, King's College, Cambridge

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    Product details

    • Date Published: July 1995
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9780521471275
    • length: 444 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 29 mm
    • weight: 0.82kg
    • contains: 15 b/w illus.
    • availability: Available
  • 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'

  • Author

    Dror Wahrman, Indiana University

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