Chartism and the miners: A reinterpretation

Church, Roy
December 1991
Labour History Review (Maney Publishing);Winter91, Vol. 56 Issue 3, p23
Academic Journal
The article reports that since historian Asa Brigg's seminal study of Chartism was published in 1962, detailed research has shifted the emphasis of Chartist historiography away from the local and political to the social and cultural aspects. Chartism is now widely regarded as having created an alternative culture which offered a broad appeal attractive to people in diverse trades and industries. The level and occupational spread of commitment and activity in pursuit of class aspirations is held to justify an interpretation of Chartism as the key unifying element in a working-class movement to which, for a time, trade unionism was subordinate. The subsequent revisionist interpretation offered by author Stedman Jones characterized Chartism as essentially political, arguing that Chartism was a movement which was saturated by class and possessed economic as well as political and cultural notions of class oppression and class conflict. This stress on Chartism as a class-based movement, together with the identification of links between Chartism, the trade unions and a wide spectrum of occupations has reinforced the view that support for Chartism was the norm among manual workers.


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