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Securing the Nation: Radicalism and Security in 1790s Britain

Gibbs, Christopher John (2013) Securing the Nation: Radicalism and Security in 1790s Britain. MA by research thesis, University of York.

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In the midst of the age of enlightenment, revolution and political enfranchisement, the English radical movement of the 1790s was an important mobiliser of lower class, liberal and radical thought, education, association, complaint and support for socio-political reform. However, the British government of William Pitt the Younger, operating in the wake of the cataclysmic French Revolution, viewed this movement first with suspicion and eventually outright hostility, and, perceiving in it a threat to the interests, institutions and prosperity of both the ruling elite and the wider nation, sought the means to repress radicalism and remove it from the active political sphere. My task in this thesis, in contributing both to the fields of security studies and the socio-political history of 1790s England, is to analyse how this was done by applying the recently conceived concept of ‘securitization’, as constructed by the Copenhagen School, to the government’s attempts to identify and combat radicalism as a threat to national security. In doing so I seek to enrich our understanding of how and why the government chose to utilise particular strategies, actions and discourses in its ultimately successful attempts to securitize and temporarily suppress radicalism, and to explore how these measures facilitated, shaped, improved, enlarged and in turn were influenced by the means of security governance employed by the state to monitor, investigate, prosecute, denigrate and repress radicalism and other perceived threats to national security. Complimentary to this I explore the radical reaction to the government’s securitization, particularly the resulting enhanced and reshaped use of the state’s security and surveillance services, and the effect this was believed to have on British society, liberty, governance and values. Finally I aim to assess the utility of the securitization framework as a tool for analysing historical and contemporary security issues in a domestic state-based context.

Item Type: Thesis (MA by research)
Keywords: Security, Radicalism, Securitization, Intelligence, Secret Service, Spies
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Depositing User: Mr Christopher John Gibbs
Date Deposited: 16 Dec 2013 14:32
Last Modified: 16 Dec 2013 14:32
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/4776

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