The Working Class in Britain: 1850-1939
Who made up the working class in Britain, who were the ordinary men and women and what were their aspirations? The first generation of postwar British labor historians tended to be preoccupied with working class activism. The history of the labor movement was regarded as synonymous with the history of the working class, concentrating on trade unions, left-wing politics, parties and activists as embodying the fundamental values, hopes and fears of working people. 'The Working Class in Britain 1850-1939' attempts to chart not only this struggle but to describe and analyze the rich and varied tapestry of working class history as a whole. It demonstrates that ‘class’ both existed and mattered although ordinary men and women had diverse lives and lifestyles. Professor Benson examines work, wages, incomes and the cost of living; family, kinship and community relations; the individual in the context of nation and class and the labor movement in all its aspects. This is an important book and extremely readable. The author has a masterly control of a huge mass of detailed evidence and paints a vivid and movingly authentic picture of working class life. ‘John Benson has written an excellent survey of British working class history...I have no hesitation in praising it as a first-rate book, innovative and attractive to read, which deserves a second edition’ - Chris Wrigley, Professor, School of History & Art History, University of Nottingham
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