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Working-Class Homes in three Urban Communities 1870-1914

Betts, Oliver (2014) Working-Class Homes in three Urban Communities 1870-1914. PhD thesis, University of York.

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Abstract

This thesis examines the place of ‘home’ in the lives of the poorest residents of the late Victorian city. Using new personal sources it looks afresh at three districts that, through the work of social investigators, have long been at the heart of working-class historiography. The homes of these ‘working-class’ men women and children have received very little historical attention despite, between 1870 and 1914, becoming a key element in the lives of those struggling with poverty and overcrowding. The home was a place where not just money, but also space and time became resources that family members employed to keep both home and family intact. Complex relationships with time, space and money governed the lives of those who inhabited these homes and proved especially important for the young men and women who were born into them. Studying the lives of youths from the perspective of the home reveals how, as they grew older, they came to experience more and more of their urban surroundings. This expanding world view, so formative to the lives of the young, was centred on the family home. Examining the homes of the urban poor also highlights the subtle yet significant distinctions and variations in ‘working-class’ life in the period that call into question the usefulness of such a term when describing people and communities. The powerful image of a culturally unified working-class stems not from the homes of these men and women themselves but the perceptions of such homes, and by extension their residents, by outside society. By 1914 the image of one, sadly deficient, working-class home was firmly rooted in the minds of social reformers. It was an image that, despite little relationship to the realities of life for the urban poor, went on to resonate in twentieth-century Britain.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Keywords: Working-Class Britain Victorian Rowntree Booth Poverty York Bethnal Green Middlesbrough
Academic Units: The University of York > History (York)
Identification Number/EthosID: uk.bl.ethos.605449
Depositing User: Oliver Betts
Date Deposited: 13 May 2014 11:16
Last Modified: 08 Sep 2016 13:30
URI: http://etheses.whiterose.ac.uk/id/eprint/5867

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