Popular Contention in Great Britain, 1758-1834

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Harvard University Press, 1995 - History - 476 pages
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Between 1750 and 1840 ordinary British people abandoned such time-honored forms of protest as collective seizures of grain, the sacking of buildings, public humiliation, and physical abuse in favor of marches, petition drives, public meetings, and other sanctioned routines of social movement politics. The change created--perhaps for the first time anywhere--mass participation in national politics.

Charles Tilly is the first to address the depth and significance of the transmutations in popular collective action during this period. As he unravels the story of thousands of popular struggles and their consequences, he illuminates the dynamic relationships of an industrializing, capitalizing, proletarianizing economy; a war-making, growing, increasingly interventionist state; and an internal history of contention that spawned such political entrepreneurs as Francis Place and Henry Hunt. Tilly's research rests on a catalog of more than 8,000 "contentious gatherings" described in British periodicals, plus ample documentation from British archives and historical monographs.

The author elucidates four distinct phases in the transformation to mass political participation and identifies the forms and occasions for collective action that characterized and dominated each. He provides rich descriptions not only of a wide variety of popular protests but also of such influential figures as John Wilkes, Lord George Gordon, William Cobbett, and Daniel O'Connell. This engaging study presents a vivid picture of the British populace during a pivotal era.

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About the author (1995)

Social scientist Charles Tilly was born in Lombard, Illinois on May 27, 1929. He graduated from Harvard Univeristy with a bachelor's degree in 1950 and a docorate in sociology in 1958. He also studied at Oxford University and the Catholic University in Angers, France. During the Korean War, he served in the Navy. He taught sociology and political science at numerous univeristies including the University of Delaware, Harvard University, the University of Toronto, the University of Michigan and Columbia University. During his lifetime, he wrote 51 books and monographs and more than 600 scholoarly articles. He received numerous awards including the Albert O. Hirschman Award from the Social Science Research Council. He died from lymphoma on April 29, 2008.

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