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Politeness in eighteenth-century Sheffield; practices, accoutrements and spaces for sociability.

Banham Julie, Julie (2011) Politeness in eighteenth-century Sheffield; practices, accoutrements and spaces for sociability. PhD thesis, University of Sheffield.

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Abstract

For centuries, Sheffield and its surrounding hinterland of Hallamshire have been acknowledged as a distinct country famous for the manufacture of metal goods. In the eighteenth century, the discovery of new materials and technologies such as silver-plating, coincided with the rise of consumerism to create national and international demand for a wide range of fashionable and affordable table goods through which owners might demonstrate their taste, manners, discernment and sophistication. Sheffield became the centre of an industry that harnessed local technology, handskills, entrepreneurship with design, financing and marketing strategies to form a complex network of inter-dependent relationships whose success relied upon men who could afford to be neither parochial nor colloquial in their manners and outlook if their ambitions were to succeed. Yet, histories of the region have consistently focused on the perceived homogenous, labouring and plebeian nature of a population that became increasingly radicalised as the century progressed. Lacking a resident aristocracy by which to set the social tone or offer direction, the notion of Sheffield as a consumer of fashionable tablewares or as a locale in which evidence may be found of its engagement with Peter Borsay’s urban renaissance is one that has been consistently overlooked. Repetition of perceptions formulated in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries has resulted in Sheffield still being popularly perceived as much as a centre for political activism as the manufacture of cutlery. Renewed interest in the eighteenth century as a period of social and cultural change has introduced new methodologies and understandings with which to explore the ways in which middling and provincial societies sought to establish their identities. They have highlighted how politeness offered them a flexible framework in which wealth and status could be displayed and a respectable niche in the social order secured. Whilst not creating a distinct social class, politeness facilitated the middling sorts in the brokering of new relationships that spanned parish boundaries and the establishment of identities that best served the needs and understandings of provincial societies. This thesis will argue that Sheffield was home to an articulate, educated and urbane middle sector of society who employed the practices, accoutrements and spaces associated with politeness in the shaping of their identity and whose contribution to the social and cultural development of the region should no longer be overlooked.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: politeness, behaviour, social, Sheffield, middling, society, urban, public, private, goods, consumption, space, inventories
Academic Units: The University of Sheffield > Faculty of Arts and Humanities (Sheffield) > History (Sheffield)
Depositing User: Dr Julie Banham
Date Deposited: 30 Mar 2012 09:29
Last Modified: 08 Aug 2013 08:48
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/2238

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