Working-class politics in Birmingham and Sheffield, 1918-1931
Boughton, John Frederick, 1958- (1985) Working-class politics in Birmingham and Sheffield, 1918-1931. PhD thesis, University of Warwick.
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Official URL: http://webcat.warwick.ac.uk/record=b1465028~S1
Working-class politics in Birmingham and Sheffield contrasted sharply
in the 1920s - Birmingham was a bastion of working-class Conservatism,
Sheffield, a Labour stronghold. In the first half of the thesis, we
explored this contrast by an examination of the economic, social and
political conditions which underlay it.
Sheffield's large-scale industry was found to reinforce working-class
values and trades union traditions which facilitated Labour's political rise.
Birmingham's diversified, often small-scale, economy impeded the development
of working-class consciousness and eased inter-class relations.
These differences were reflected in the towns' working-class
cormtinities. The forms of Sheffield society consolidated the working-class
loyalties of which Labour affiliations became one aspect. Birmingham
society was more penetrable and possessed a powerful civic tradition of
In local government, Birmingham retained a confident, reforming
middle-class leadership fulfilling the heritage of Joseph Chamberlain.
Sheffield's middle-class politicians retreated into reactionary
oppositionism which hastened Labour's advance. Contemporary events in the
national economy and politics strengthened Labour's claim to be the real
party of the working class.
In the second half, we studied the content of working-class politics;
examining, firstly, Labour's principles and practice. Ethical and
constitutional values, combined with a corrrnitment to practical reform, were
found dominant. A genuine party life of extra-political activities existed
but its scope and ambitions were modest.
Cooperation shared similar values, allied with an ambiguous attitude
towards political action which strained relations with the wider Labour
movement. The revolutionary Left was active but its aggressive style and
far-reaching demands distanced it from the broader working class.
In conclusion, we looked at working-class Conservatism - still
influential and with several ideological and structural strains in workingclass
culture perpetuating its appeal. We viewed it, particularly among
the poorer strata, as one method of getting by in a life deemed
|Item Type:||Thesis or Dissertation (PhD)|
|Subjects:||D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
|Library of Congress Subject Headings (LCSH):||Birmingham (England) -- Politics and government -- 20th century, Sheffield (England) -- Politics and government -- 20th century, Working class -- Political activity -- England -- Birmingham, Working class -- Political activity -- England -- Sheffield, Birmingham (England) -- Social conditions -- 20th century, Sheffield (England) -- Social conditions -- 20th century|
|Official Date:||March 1985|
|Institution:||University of Warwick|
|Theses Department:||Department of Social History|
|Supervisor(s)/Advisor:||Mason, Tony, 1938-|
|Extent:||viii, 477 leaves|
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