Urban associations: class, culture and the enlightened spirit, Derby c.1700-c.1900

Crane, Michael A (2019) Urban associations: class, culture and the enlightened spirit, Derby c.1700-c.1900. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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Essentially an urban biography, this thesis is a social history of Derby’s transformation during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. It emphasises the distinctive status of Derby as a county town and examines the synergy of its associative culture, sustained economic growth, thriving knowledge economy and the influence of both elite and plebeian leadership.

In analysing the town’s industrial revolution and socio-cultural evolution, the thesis addresses the relative neglect of the historical literature in identifying Derby as a nationally important urban centre. In so doing, new light is shed on the timing and nature of the industrial revolution and adds to the debate on the role played by urban associations in shaping class identity and what Joel Mokyr has referred to as the ‘enlightened economy’.

Issues relating to hierarchies and associations, aspirations and ambitions, are at the heart of the study. The paradoxical characteristics of the associational world are highlighted in promoting both social cohesion and fragmentation. The nature of power, control and self-determination is explored within the context of industrialisation and the town’s cultural awakening.

Wealth creation and social emulation, patronage and the corporate culture of the Midland Railway are shown to be significant factors in forging a ‘creative community’ of industrialists, intellectuals and artists. A strong bourgeois elite created an ‘urban renaissance’ and a ‘knowledge economy’, whilst union action, co-operation and an emerging radical agenda forged a self-determined and politically ambitious workforce. The challenges of industrialisation and social change were met through the collegiality of vibrant and diverse associations. This resulted in the ‘little State’ of Derby rising up the urban hierarchy to become a provincial capital.

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Beckett, John
Gaunt, Richard
Keywords: Derby, industrial revolution, Midland railway
Subjects: D History - General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Faculties/Schools: UK Campuses > Faculty of Arts > School of Humanities
Item ID: 56273
Depositing User: Crane, Michael
Date Deposited: 12 Aug 2019 13:11
Last Modified: 07 May 2020 10:45
URI: https://eprints.nottingham.ac.uk/id/eprint/56273

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