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.Read more
- 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
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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- 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'
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