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HIST7347: The Re-Making of the British Working Class

Keith McClelland

This course will examine the main developments within the British working class and labour movements, 1848-1914. A central problem will be the relationship between class and movements: issues to be discussed will include both economic structure and change and social and cultural formation — including such problems as the ‘labour aristocracy’, the nature and impact of gender and ethnic differences etc. — and the relationship between these developments and political and institutional changes, including the formation of trade unionism, political movements and ideas (from the radicalism of the c. 1848-1880 to the formation of the Labour Party and social democracy). Throughout out the course attention will be paid to regional comparisons and, especially, developments within London.

Among the over-arching themes to be addressed will be why the best organised working class in Europe (measured by trade union density etc.) came to be politically dominated by liberal-radical/social democratic parties and ideologies. In order to explore this problem the working class and labour movements will be placed clearly within the context of the development of British society and politics as a whole while a key point of reference will be developments within continental Europe.

Assessment methods


HIST7347A/B: 2 X 2,500 word essays

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