The spirit of independence: friendly societies in Nottinghamshire 1724-1913

O'Neill, J.A., 1992. The spirit of independence: friendly societies in Nottinghamshire 1724-1913. PhD, Nottingham Trent University.

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The purpose of this thesis is to contribute to knowledge about friendly societies by exploring their experiences throughout one county from the eighteenth century to 1913. Drawing on a wide range of material, many different kinds of societies which existed during this time are identified.

From a database of 1,271 societies, the chronological, typological and geographical patterns of development are explored; the membership, activities, and management of societies is discussed on the basis of data drawn from other sources. As a result, many commonly held beliefs about societies are challenged. Particular attention is drawn to the early establishment of rural as well as urban societies, the extensiveness of membership throughout the nineteenth century, the persistence of the independent society even after the rise of the affiliated orders, the extent of female membership and the fact that membership was not restricted to the artisan elite even in the eighteenth century.

The place of friendly societies in the lives of the working people is explored through discussion of the meaning of independence in the friendly society context and the class implications of membership. It is argued that the achievement of independence and control of society management were important concerns for members. It is also argued that these concerns were not a reflection either of middle-class aspirations or working- class identification; instead they represented the pragmatic outcome of the workers' assessment of their situation. Finally it is argued that the pragmatism of the members' relationship to their societies and the societies' desire for independence of each other and of the state both contributed to the failure of the friendly societies to develop into a united movement to further the interests of working people in spite of being the earliest of the workers' self-help organisations, with the largest following, throughout the nineteenth century.

Item Type: Thesis
Creators: O'Neill, J.A.
Date: 1992
ISBN: 9781369324051
Divisions: Schools > School of Arts and Humanities
Record created by: Linda Sullivan
Date Added: 10 Nov 2020 15:41
Last Modified: 05 Oct 2023 09:42

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