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British Political Culture and the Idea of ‘Public Opinion', 1867–1914


  • Date Published: August 2013
  • availability: In stock
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107026797

£ 79.99

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About the Authors
  • Newspapers, periodicals, pamphlets and books all reflect the ubiquity of 'public opinion' in political discourse in late nineteenth and early twentieth-century Britain. Through close attention to debates across the political spectrum, James Thompson charts the ways in which Britons sought to locate 'public opinion' in an era prior to polling. He shows that 'public opinion' was the principal term through which the link between the social and the political was interrogated, charted and contested and charts how the widespread conviction that the public was growing in power raised significant issues about the kind of polity emerging in Britain. He also examines how the early Labour party negotiated the language of 'public opinion' and sought to articulate Labour interests in relation to those of the public. In so doing he sheds important new light on the character of Britain's liberal political culture and on Labour's place in and relationship to that culture.

    • Integrates political and intellectual history in a novel way
    • Analyses the debate from all areas of the political spectrum
    • Addresses methodological issues in intellectual history in a clear and succinct way
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    Reviews & endorsements

    '… there is plenty of rich and exciting material here, and the collection is doubtless a useful addition to the existing scholarship.' Ben Weinstein, Reviews in History

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    Product details

    • Date Published: August 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107026797
    • length: 299 pages
    • dimensions: 235 x 160 x 21 mm
    • weight: 0.55kg
    • availability: In stock
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: rethinking public opinion in late nineteenth-century Britain
    1. An open demos? The public and the question of membership
    2. The ghost in the machine: locating public opinion
    3. The mind of the nation? Reason and the public
    4. Political economy and the idea of 'public opinion'
    5. Representing labour: the labour movement, politics and the public
    6. Conclusion: 'public opinion' and political culture in Britain, 1870–1914.

  • Author

    James Thompson, University of Bristol
    James Thompson is a Senior Lecturer in Modern British History at the University of Bristol. His research focuses primarily upon the political and intellectual culture of nineteenth- and twentieth-century Britain. He has published articles on a wide variety of aspects of modern British history, including trade union law, class and political language, and political posters.

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