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La Bourgeoisie Britannique au 19e siècle. recherches, approches, problématiques

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  26 July 2017

Geoffrey Crossick*
Affiliation:
Université d'Essex

Extract

Malgré le manque d'intérêt dont elle a été l'objet durant des décennies, l'histoire sociale de la bourgeoisie est devenue, au cours de ces dernières années, un thème majeur de l'historiographie britannique1. le retard pris explique l'attention récente, partielle, et par certains côtés caractéristique, des historiens britanniques pour ce thème qu'ils avaient longtemps dédaigné ou considéré comme un problème dont les grandes lignes étaient trop connues pour justifier une recherche approfondie. Dans toute l'Europe les historiens pourraient, certes, soutenir que les classes moyennes ou la bourgeoisie ont été relativement négligées dans leur propre pays et ce serait, dans une certaine mesure, exact. L'histoire sociale s'est partout développée en priorité autour de questions qui concernaient les groupes dominés de la société et, pour les générations d'historiens de l'après-guerre, la bourgeoisie était perçue comme un thème peu attrayant.

Summary

Summary

The social history of the middle class in nineteenth-century Britain has in recent years become a prominent theme in British analysis, in spite of decades of neglect. This article is a critical survey of the main themes which have dominated work in this field in the last fifteen years, focusing especially on the questions and approaches which distinguish research and analysis in Britain within a broader European framework. After a discussion of the way social history developed in Britain, which provides an essential context in which to understand its neglect of the middle class, the article is organised around a set of themes: words, classes and the discovery of the eighteenth century; an activity-based approach to class formation; the integrative power of voluntary action; cultural forces for cohesion and division; the petite bourgeoisie's struggle for attention; and, finally, landowners, bourgeois and the changing problematic.

The relatively late development of the middle class as a subject for research in Britain means that it has grown at the very time when social structural history has fallen into disfavour, and when questions of representations and discourse have corne lo dominate the British social history agenda. Concern for the formation or appearance of the middle class in the first half of the nineteenth century has given way to questions of culture and élite relationships in the second. The distinctiveness of the British approach can be traced to the concerns of the national culture, to the nature of the sources for the analysis of the bourgeoisie, and to the distinctive character of the historical process itself.

Type
La Bourgeoisie Britannique au 19e Siècle
Copyright
Copyright © Les Éditions de l’EHESS 1998

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