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The Absent-Minded ImperialistsEmpire, Society, and Culture in Britain$
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Bernard Porter

Print publication date: 2006

Print ISBN-13: 9780199299591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2011

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199299591.001.0001

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Trade, Liberty, and Empire: The Middle Classes to 1880

Trade, Liberty, and Empire: The Middle Classes to 1880

(p.83) 5 Trade, Liberty, and Empire: The Middle Classes to 1880
The Absent-Minded Imperialists

Bernard Porter

Oxford University Press

It is difficult to generalize about the middle classes in Britain. The term covers a wide range of very different interests, from professional people and great industrialists, through shopkeepers and clerks, to the skilled craftsmen and women who were strictly just out of the middle class's range, but were associated with it through ties of ‘respectability’. Individualism was supposed to be their forte. The upper classes had their public schools to encourage esprit de corps; the working classes their common sense of exploitation. The middles felt less solidarity. They had certain vague aspirations in common, like respectability, and some shared ideals, like ‘freedom’, but nothing that indicated a clear-cut, class-based position on the issues that are the subject of this book.

Keywords:   Britain, middle classes, industrialists, individualism, upper classes, working classes, freedom

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