Rise of Respectable Society: A Social History of Victorian Britain
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For the quality of its research and the clarity of its synthesis, The Rise of Respectable Society will gain a reputation as an outstanding reinterpretation of the Victorian period.
In the years since the appearance of G. M. Young’s brilliant survey, Victorian England: Portrait of an Age, a mass of new research from new perspectives has entirely changed the landscape of the Victorian era. The Rise of Respectable Society offers a new map of this territory as revealed by close empirical studies of marriage, the family, domestic and working classes from the rigidity of the class stereotypes by which they have been frequently portrayed. But it also argues that the diversity of cultures within those classes was in fact the essence of Victorian society, and that as each class developed its notions of self-respect, so it adhered ever more closely to the classes above and below it, thus avoiding the revolutionary fractures which appeared in many other European countries during this period.