Wood, John Carter
Reading spaces and reading violence in nineteenth-century Britain.
Journal for the Study of British Cultures, 17(2),
Perceptions of violence played an important role in the efforts of middle-class Britons to understand their working- and lower-class compatriots in the nineteenth century, a process that required that the former also consider the spaces in which latter lived. This scrutiny of violence lower down the social scale also influenced the contours of middle-class identity. The efforts of the British middle classes in the nineteenth century to define themselves through a self-consciously ‘civilised’ rejection of ‘savage’ behaviour compelled them to investigate, describe and – typically – condemn the conduct of the working class and poor. But the customary violence that was maintained in the increasingly urbanised spaces of British life was not entirely decipherable to middle-class observers: their efforts to read those spaces were incomplete.
Actions (login may be required)