The culture of combination: solidarities and collective action before tolpuddle

Griffin, Carl (2015) The culture of combination: solidarities and collective action before tolpuddle. Historical Journal, 58 (2). pp. 443-480. ISSN 0018-246X

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Beyond the repression of the national waves of food rioting during the subsistence crises of the 1790s, workers in the English countryside lost the will and ability to collectively mobilise. Or so the historical orthodoxy goes. Such a conceptualisation necessarily positions the Bread or Blood riots of 1816, the Swing rising of 1830, and, in particular, the agrarian trade unionism practised at Tolpuddle in 1834 as exceptional events. This paper offers a departure by placing Tolpuddle into its wider regional context. The unionists at Tolpuddle, it is shown, were not making it up as they went along but instead acted in ways consistent with shared understandings and experiences of collective action and unionism practiced throughout the English west. In so doing, it pays particular attention to the forms of collective action – and judicial responses – that extended between different locales and communities and which joined farmworkers, artisans and industrial workers together. So conceived, Tolpuddle was not an exception. Rather, it can be more usefully understood as a manifestation of deeply entrenched cultures, an episode that assumes its historical potency because of its subsequent politicised representations

Item Type: Article
Keywords: Tolpuddle; Rural protest; Trade union history; Historical geography; social history
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Geography
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA History of Great Britain
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > G Geography (General) > G0001 Geography (General) > G0141 Historical geography
H Social Sciences > HN Social history and conditions. Social problems. Social reform
Depositing User: Carl Griffin
Date Deposited: 23 Mar 2015 08:21
Last Modified: 06 Mar 2017 19:28

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