MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN LEICESTER: INFLUENCES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND POLITICAL GENERATION

Hunting, James Edward (1992). MID-NINETEENTH CENTURY VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN LEICESTER: INFLUENCES OF SOCIAL CLASS AND POLITICAL GENERATION. The Open University.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.21954/ou.ro.0001015f

Abstract

The core of this thesis is a study of the parliamentary electoral behaviour of a mid nineteenth century East Midiands town, namely Leicester.

Its format is a quantitative analysis based upon a large programme of nominal record linkage between the contemporary pollbooks and censuses, from which statistically reliable evidence was drawn and ultimately presented to argue the case of the existence and extent of social class and political generational influences upon electoral choice in Leicester during a specific period in time.

Naturally, such an analysis of voting behaviour would not have been feasible without a full knowledge of the contemporary local (and to some extent the national) political scene and of the socio-economic milieu in which it developed. The same is true when offering an interpretation of the analysis to the reader. Therefore a detailed account of Leicester's socio-economic and political life, both somewhat prior to and during the period focused upon, is presented in the two chapters which immediately precede the quantitative analysis.

As a piece of historical research it was also important to survey the field and present a review of those published works which have shed previous light regarding social class and political generational influences upon electoral behaviour. This has been covered in length following the introductory first chapter of the thesis. But there is an important point to be stressed regarding the content of this review. The social class dimension of voting behaviour has been especialiy associated with the mid twentieth century. Therefore it was considered appropriate to devote some attention both to this period and to the intervening decades which separate it from the period which my own research has focused upon: i.e., the main purpose for deiving into mid nineteenth century social class influences was a quest for a precursor to a statistically proven (rather than an assumed) mid twentieth century phenomenon. Much the same reasoning lies behind the accompanying study of political generation which therefore follows a similar approach.

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