Urban and Rural Protest

Overview of booklet 2


Context (1830-1848)

Pre-1832 only the rich could vote.

Post-1832 middle class enfranchised.

Absence of political power limited choices for the working class.

'Popular protest' - collective protest by working/middle classes of society at a local or even national level to express a view in attempt to change things. 

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Distribution of Power

  • A new 'middle class' emerged with the new industries with wealth based on industry. 
  • Urban not rural.
  • Resented lack of political power.
  • Bottem end of the scale: semi or unskiled industrial workers
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Living Conditions in the Towns

  • Industrialisation had a major effect upon the health of the nation.
  • Population increase from 10 million in 1801 to 32.5 million in 1901.
  • Urban centres (eg Manchester) had increasing population due to movement of agricultural labourers seeking work. 
    • Could not cope with increasing size.
    • Local govt unable to administer the new towns effectively.
  • Poor town planning, overcrowding and generally poor living conditions.
    • Lack of clean water, disease was widespread and cholera was recurrent. 
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Working Conditions

  • Industrial system was different in two crucial ways:
    • working day was far more rigidly organised
    • major loss in independence
  • Generally poor conditions.
  • Craft skills superseded by machines.
  • Low pay.
  • Child labour.
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Ideas of Jeremy Bentham

  • "The greatest happiness of the greatest number of people."
  • This could be achieved in 2 ways:
    • Government and administration had to be made as efficient as possible. Anything inefficient must be modernised. 
    • Laissez-faire guiding principle of government. A minimum amount of interference within the lives of individuals.
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Reactions to Social and Working conditions

  • A desire for greater efficiency emerged which prompted reform.
  • Social reform was necessary as British society had very poor living and working conditions - needed to maintain political stability.
  • Lower class still lacked major political power. 
  • Reforms dictated from above. 
  • Needed to improve education as there was a need for more advanced techniques and skilled labour to maintain Britain's economic position.
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What Causes Popular Protest?

  • Economic problems - low wages, industrial/agricultural depression
  • Political concerns - lack of vote, political context
  • Social issues - poverty, living/working conditions, social class
  • Religious conflict - issues for Catholics and Non-Comformists
  • Local/regional issues - local grievances
  • Government action - changes in policy or the law
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