Why has 'Social Class' been of such significance in the history of nineteenth-century Britain? Answer with reference to: the middle class

Essay by gforshawUniversity, Bachelor'sB-, November 2003

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In the nineteenth century social class was a significant part of life within Britain. Class determined were one stood and there own personal role within society, in simple terms, social class was 'where you stand within the production system'. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the middle class saw itself rise as a dominant figure within Britain, also as some historians have argued, played an important role within the running of the country. As well as being economically stable the views and culture of the middle class also became more dominant within society. As the influence of the middle class began to assert itself within nineteenth century Britain, by 1850 it was popular belief that the middle class was going to run the country. The 1832 Reform act proved that politically the middle class was a powerful force within society. Despite the influence and potential rise to power of the middle class, the later half of the nineteenth century saw the so-called failure to sustain equivalent success, as the continued power of the aristocracy was to prevail.

(1) The middle class in the early nineteenth century Britain was a mix of different professions and backgrounds spread throughout the country. Occupations consisted of Merchants, Bankers, Landlords, Retailers, Farmers, Professionals, Petty shopkeepers and Retailers. Each of these occupational groups was able to capitalise from the prosperity in which Britain was currently experiencing as the centre of the worlds trade. The middle class was a vital element for the economic growth of Britain. Manufactures, often regional such as Manchester and Oldham were leading producers, not only across the world but also within Britain. Merchants and bankers also played a key role within the running of the economy. (2) The middle class began to see the importance of its own role within...