Early Political Movements of the Unemployed

  • Paul Bagguley


During the nineteenth century there were a number of social movements associated with unemployment relief. The first of these, the anti-Poor Law movement of the 1830s is not strictly a movement of the unemployed, but rather a political alliance of sections of the middle classes and the early trade unions in the north of England. The unemployed were noticeable by their absence from the struggles around the 1834 Poor Law Act (Knott, 1986, p. 274). However, it deserves some brief attention as a proto movement of the unemployed, in that it demonstrates the importance of the availability of organisational and cultural resources. It was also centrally concerned with the levels, forms and local control over unemployment relief. Further, since it is an attempt to influence relief prior to the the extension of the franchise later in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, an examination of the anti-Poor Law movement is a useful comparison with later movements in relation to the claims I have made previously about the importance of state forms in structuring political protest by the unemployed.


Trade Union Unemployment Insurance Cultural Resource Labour Movement Insurance Benefit 
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Copyright information

© Paul Bagguley 1991

Authors and Affiliations

  • Paul Bagguley
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Policy and SociologyUniversity of LeedsUK

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