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Review: Class, Politics and Historical 'Revisionism'

Reviewed Works: Liberty, Retrenchment and Reform: Popular Liberalism in the Age of Gladstone, 1860-1880 by Eugenio F. Biagini; Currents of Radicalism: Popular Radicalism, Organized Labour and Party Politics in Britain, 1850-1914 by Eugenio F. Biagini, Alastair J. Reid
Review by: Robert Gray
Social History
Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, 1994), pp. 209-220
Published by: Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/4286197
Page Count: 12
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Class, Politics and Historical 'Revisionism'
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Abstract

This article responds to recent work on class and popular politics in Britain, especially that of Eugenio Biagini and Alastair Reid (Biagini, "Liberty, Retrenchment and Reform" (1992); Biagini and Reid (eds), "Currents of Radicalism" (1991)). The work considered here offers revisions of the social history of class. Popular dimensions in Gladstonian Liberalism, as well as cross-currents in popular opinion too readily dismissed in teleological narratives of class, are rightly emphasised. However, it is suggested that more attention could be paid to tensions within liberalism, and to gender, as well as class dimensions. Emphasis on formal political language (defined in party-political terms by the last decades of the nineteenth century) is arguably in tension with the exploration of broader popular mentalities, addressed especially by some of the contributors to the edited volume, as well as by much cognate work in social history. The established agendas of social history are of continuing relevance in this respect, as is the 'new' emphasis on language and identities.

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