Families, Relationships and Home Life

Part of the Social History in Perspective book series (SHP)


The second half of the nineteenth century has been portrayed as a time when the working classes, now benefiting from a rise in real wages, became assimilated and reconciled to the society of industrial capitalism. Gareth Stedman Jones has argued that working-class culture became increasingly conservative and ‘respectable’. The majority of working-class marriages were now legal unions; and, as traditions of artisan radicalism began to decline, so too did the heavy drinking which had characterised earlier plebeian life. Such pastimes as cockfighting and bearbaiting began to die out as working-class leisure interests centred upon sports like football, and upon institutions such as the music hall. A new consumerism began to seepinto the lives of the working-class, as they began to enjoy fish and chips, seaside excursions and cheap, imported foodstuffs from the colonies. According to Stedman Jones, the focus of working-class culture switched from the workplace to the home, a process which was facilitated by the advent of shorter working days (typically nine-hour days, and a half day’s holiday on Saturday).1


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  1. 1.
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© Kathryn Gleadle 2001

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