Popular working-class song in industrial Lancashire c. 1832 - 1862: An investigation of local, political and gender identities

Rowland, Michael (2007) Popular working-class song in industrial Lancashire c. 1832 - 1862: An investigation of local, political and gender identities. Masters thesis, University of Central Lancashire.

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The thesis presented here is intended to demonstrate the value of popular working-class song toward the understanding of ordinary labouring people in 19th century Lancashire, particularly in the cotton trade. The chronology represents three decades of the century spanning a period of growing class awareness, beginning in 1832 when the first Reform
Act was passed and ending in 1862 during the Cotton Famine, which created widespread distress throughout the cotton districts of Lancashire. In order to put this chronology into perspective, it will be necessary to address the years preceding it. Following a General Introduction, the main body of the work will be divided into six Chapters. Chapter 1 will be a review of relevant secondary material. This is a necessary exercise in order to examine the work carried out before this thesis and the material available as a basis for its construction. Chapter 2 is an historiographical overview of class-consciousness,
involving recent debates in social history concerning the relevance of language within historical inquiry. The four Chapters following on from this addresses popular song culture itself. Chapter 3 is concerned with the broadside trade and the Preston printer, John Harkness (whose printed sheets form the principal primary material). It transpires from this study that his business interests were wide and varied. All songs and observations/reports from the time are quoted verbatim throughout the text. Chapter 4 focuses on the subject of locality, namely Preston and the surrounding area. Locality was
a popular theme in broadside culture. Chapter 5 focuses on the representation of politics in ballad texts and reveals a recurrent ideal of patriotism present in popular radicalism, as well as a developing political awareness amongst working people. Chapter 6 is an examination of gender issues portrayed in popular song culture, both in the home and the workplace. The relative lack of study in this area is emphasised. The thesis ends with an Overall Conclusion, which recapitulates and appraises the main points raised in this piece. One of the major findings throughout the work is that this unique material still requires further in-depth exploration and that the piece itself serves as an addition towards this process.

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