Cultures of Exclusion

Advancing the corpus linguistics, looking specifically at tragedy, the emphasis is on banish and banishment because of the political context.  Exclude/exclusion are not encountered at all.  (Corpora obtained from ProjectGutenberg and run through TextSTAT).

Duchess of Malfi: banished x5; banishment x2. Inc. ANTONIO: ‘My banishment, feeding my melancholy…’

The White Devil: banish/ed 3; banishment 3.  Opening with Ludovico’s exclamation ‘Banished!’.

Although the term is not encountered in A Woman Killed with Kindness, banishment is effectively the fate of Anne (Nan).

Banishment was the sense invoked by urban authorities in their exclusion of their own members who had allegedly contravened expected norms.

Cultures of Exclusion Conference

So to other obvious observations.  OED has two strands for exclusion: one is tantamount to structural exclusion (i.e. not being admitted); the other to removal – more regularly banishment or ostracism.  The noun exclusion seems fairly rare in literature (I did a brief concordance analysis of Jonson, for example; OED has earliest occurrence in 14th century).  The first concept leads in many directions about rituals of inclusion and exclusion, qualifying status, and access to resources.  The second can be analyzed on various levels from Durkheim’s sacredness of society through functionalism to the latter’s insistence on reintegration and the restoration of harmony – or, more likely, enmity and low-level self-help, continuing ostracism and acrimony.

Cultures of Exclusion Conference

Here’s another thought prompted by work being conducted by Charmian Mansell.  It returns me to thinking about Social Network Analysis.  One precept which is being neglected now is Time, which used to be taken into account in the earlier literature (esp. in Social Forces).  Time is important for establishing social networks, esp. as support networks.  One might then a priori expect a difference in the capability of domestic servants and servants in husbandry to establish support networks in their place of occupation.  Domestic servants have the Time, but servants in husbandry do not (one-year contracts).  This thought is also apposite for some work which I am undertaking on bankrupts who migrated (London Gazette notices), for their failures disallowed them from making strong support networks and compelled them to move on or, quite often, circular migration back to their place of origin where they had kinship support networks.  What to do about Mark Granovetter’s ‘weak links’ is a constant challenge.

Cultures of exclusion conference

As this Warwick conference approaches, my thoughts return to social interactionism and symbolic interactionism, although the latter (Mead, Blumer) may be a stretch too far.  This consideration has been stimulated too by a recent event in my life, subjective as it may seem in the historical prospectus.  Recently, my college alma mater communicated that this year it would entertain 50th-anniversary recruits (matriculands, as it has it) for its annual dinner.  The insistence, however, on black tie is anathema to some of us (well, me).  I consequently declined to attend.  Is this self-exclusion?  I suggest not entirely.  In part, the culpability rests with the college which is inflexible in allowing lounge suits (those who wish could still retain black tie).  The exclusion is a consequence of interactionism or, as I re-read it, Goffman’s Behavior in Public Places (1963).  It approximates to the expected rules which are not legislative but to which people are expected to conform.  It is not quite a question of Goffman’s ‘situational proprieties’, which are matters of etiquette.  It would be interesting if the participants in their papers address this wider issue: ‘situational proprieties’ (how people who do not respond in the anticipated fashion in face-to-face (public) situations become excluded).

“Thrift” and the working-class economy, 1858-1903

Recent investigation has directed attention again to the deposit accounts of savings banks as an indicator of the ability of and propensity for the working class to save (not least through management of the household economy (Perriton and Maltby; Maltby). In one sense, this recourse to savings banks complied with ideological constraints of social control and reflected inversely the different standards imposed on or associated with middle class and working class (Paul Johnson). There is the possibility, consequently, that deposits in savings banks miss aspects of a working-class independent ethos. Such a potential difference – one of necessity, but also choice – was illustrated by Robert Noonan in The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists and is also well attested through the relationships with pawn brokers (Tebbutt): that working class people “invested” in household goods (‘assets’) which temporarily improved their lives, but were “realisable”, in the sense that they were capital which could be liquidated in times of necessity. Accordingly, we might then examine the probate calendars introduced in 1858 for the ability of the working class to accumulate as a prospective form of saving. The following comments are based on an interim sample of more than 20,000 probate records for Leicestershire. (All the data – some 24k records – have been collected, but are still being input into the database, which has now progressed to 22k). There are obvious caveats. The valuation occurred at death, at the end of the lifecourse, but we might suspect little adherence to a Chayanovian life-cycle relinquishing of goods in later life, for they still provided a capital reserve. Secondly, the deceased have been divided into various categories of work, but we know from Noonan’s description of building work in Hastings that the employment of the various building craftsmen was often not in their particular skill, but whatever work was available, usually at lower rates. Thirdly, the numbers involved are low. The reason is that a vast realm of deceased has been excluded because it is uncertain whether they were employed or self-employed, so, for example, all painters, plumbers, glaziers, and so on, have been excised. The concentration is thus on unskilled (as far as any work lacks acquired skills) (labourers), semi-skilled (framework knitters), and skilled (bricklayers). What the data indicate is the possibility for the fortunate, diligent, but minority of, working-class employees to accumulate, in many cases comparable with the capacity of the lower-middle-class retailer, who depended on their aggregate demand (a massive contrast with Jack London’s East End in The People of the Abyss and even Noonan’s Hastings) . There are other categories which illumine the range of working-class opportunity. Workers in extractive industry had very poor potential. The new railway industry, in contrast, elevated a new ‘labour aristocracy’.

The division before and after 1881 is explained by W. D. Rubinstein, Men of Property: The Very Wealthy in Britain Since the Industrial Revolution (New edn, London, 2006), p. 20.

Linda Perriton and Josephine Maltby, “Working-class households and savings in England, 1850-1880”, Enterprise and Society 16 (2015), 413-45.

Maltby, “‘The wife’s administration of the earnings’? Working-class women and savings in the mid-nineteenth century”, Continuity and Change 26 (2011), 187-217.

Paul Johnson, “Class law in Victorian England”, Past & Present 141 (1993), 147-69.

Melanie Tebbutt, Making Ends Meet: Pawnbroking and Working-Class Credit (London, 1983).

Jack London, The People of the Abyss (London, 1903).

‘Robert Tressell’, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists ed. Peter Miles (Oxford, 2005).

1 Farm labourers after 1881

N

37

mean

156.5

Standard deviation

204.77

median

85

Before 1881: 7, ranged <£20 to <£100.

2a Bricklayers before 1881

Under £

Leicester

Town

Rural

20

0

2

2

50

1

1

1

100

5

2

9

200

0

0

2

300

2

0

3

450

0

0

3

600

0

1

1

1500

1

0

0

2b Bricklayers after 1881

Leicester

Town

Rural

N

24

5

18

mean

233

189

212

Standard deviation

236.2

174.7

259.2

median

133

93

87

3a FWKs before 1881

Under £s

Leicester

Town

Rural

5

0

0

2

20

3

2

27

50

1

1

5

100

7

8

34

200

6

3

8

300

2

1

2

450

0

1

7

500

0

0

1

600

0

0

1

800

1

0

0

3b FWKs after 1881

Leicester

Town

Rural

N

51

30

75

mean

169

166

168.5

Standard deviation

170.9

227.1

229.0

Median

97

99.5

60

4a Labourers before 1881

Under £

Leicester

Town

Rural

10

0

0

1

20

0

2

17

40

0

1

0

50

2

0

5

60

0

0

1

70

0

0

1

80

0

0

1

90

0

0

1

100

9

12

48

200

1

5

39

300

1

0

9

400

0

0

2

450

0

2

4

600

0

0

1

4b Labourers after 1881

Leicester

Town

Rural

N

36

22

174

Mean

209.2

272.9

128.4

Standard deviation

272.4

462.5

145.7

Median

92.5

166.5

81.5

Gentlemen and capitalism: some questions

Gentlemen and capitalism: some questions

Consequent upon Wiener’s and Rubinstein’s research respectively into culture and industrial capital and ‘men of wealth’, Cain et al. embarked upon the elucidation of ‘gentlemanly capitalism’, which has become a paradigm of English entrepreneurship, status and the performance of the economy.(1) Perhaps, however, we can illustrate a dichotomy by reference to contemporary literature and ethnographic writing. Ostensibly, Henry Wilcox represents this ethos of gentlemanly capitalism, although his company is a commercial enterprise rather than industrial. We should recollect, however, that, although he purchased the Onibury estate (Clun, Shropshire), he really was not enamoured of the countryside, visited the estate rarely, and abandoned it when an unpleasant incident occurred there. Nor was he especially attracted to his wife’s Howards End. His countenance of both arose from expectations of status and family rather than a desire to enjoy the lifestyle of the country elite. His natural environment was the City.(2) In contrast, Jack London excoriated the 400,000 gentlemen in the 1881 census, ‘of no occupation’ and ‘unprofitable’.(3) Such a number could not have been composed of either retired industrialists or ‘men of wealth’.

The character of the urban gentleman

The following data are extracted from the National Probate Register. The database from which they derive concerns probate valuations for all entries for Leicestershire from the initiation of civil registration of probate in 1858 to 1903. The timescale accords with Piketty’s concentration of wealth in England, but he did not have recourse to these data.(4) The terminus ad quem is also aligned with the Distress Act of 1905 (thus with renewed recession), Noonan’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthopists (also indicative of that economic crisis, in Hastings), London’s The People of the Abyss (although poignantly and narrowly directed to the East End of the capital), the 1910 land valuation and new income taxes.(5) The database is in progress. Although all the data have been accumulated, only surnames A-O have been entered into the database, comprising just under 16,000 data records, 620 (just under 4 percent) of which concern deceased described as gentleman or esquire in the borough of Leicester. The data are divided into two cohorts: before April 1881 and after 1881, determined by the transition in the probate valuation from an estimated round number (e.g. under £450) to a precise valuation, often re-sworn, and sometimes prescribed to a halfpenny.(6) There is a coincidental advantage in this sectioning, since it mitigates any impact of inflation, although Piketty estimates zero inflation in the long nineteenth century.(7)

Commencing with the data prior to April 1881, we have 290 data records, the minimum and maximum consisting of under £20 (six deceased) and under £60,000. Another two deceased were estimated to have estate valued at less than £50, but 30 less than £100, 23 less than £200, 14 less than £300, one less than £400, and 23 under £450 (the next amount is less than £600). About 13 percent of gentleman thus possessed estate valued at less than £100 and more than a fifth less than £200, levels of estate which were not beyond accrual by labourers (another analysis is in progress on these data of unskilled and skilled workpeople).

The post-1881 data present a similar pattern, allowing for some upward inflation of the values. We have 330 data records, with a minimum of £3 and a maximum of £224,567. If we conduct an assessment of the Gini coefficient, as an artifice, on these data, the result is 0.78 (to two decimal places): a wide divergence in inequality in the cohort of gentlemen and esquires. The mean and median are something of another artifice, however, at £5,080 and £1,011, but note the standard deviation of 15759 and interquartile range of 3437 (to the nearest integer). More interestingly, the fifth percentile occurs at £44. If we consider rank order, 112 (over a third) owned estate valued at less than £499. The estate of 14 percent was evaluated at below £100.

What existed then was a wide disparity in the wealth of those with the status of gentleman in the urban context. Very many conducted a marginal existence in terms of financial status. Undoubtedly, some (perhaps not many) received financial support from kinship, but the meagre valuations of their estate reflect a rather mean quotidian lifestyle and household content. These data, it must be explained, exclude many industrialists who, as will be explained below, were described by occupation rather than status at their demise.

Business wealth

The second issue concerns directly industrial wealth. The question here is whether businessmen withdrew capital from their enterprise and to what extent. A considerable proportion of business consisted of partnerships. The extent of these partnerships in any industrial locality can be gauged in records of dissolution in The London Gazette. What needs to be established is what amount of capital was extracted by the retiring partner. In the case of family partnerships, it is possible that the retiring partner left capital in the business and only withdrew what was necessary for an expected lifestyle.

Mittelstand

Associated with that question of capital diversion is the issue of the size of the business. Hitherto, concentration has been on the ‘very wealthiest’. The late-Victorian equivalent of the SME or mittelstand has been somewhat neglected, but the majority of the hosiery and boot and shoe manufacturers in the East Midlands pertained to that category, affluent, but not the ‘very wealthiest’. The NPR material reveals that these manufacturers retained as their denomination their industrial occupation at death/probate rather than the status of gentlemen. It equally demonstrates that they did not aspire to country estates and pursuits, but congregated in the new (highly selective and salubrious) suburban developments, particularly Knighton.(8) Whilst cadet siblings accepted the style of ‘gentleman’ and existed on more slender means in the urban location, the eldest continued the enterprise and retained the style of industrialist/manufacturer.

Origins of some gentlemen: lower middle class

One other benefit of the NPR is that, very occasionally, it reveals the background of those who did aspire to the title of ‘gentleman’ from a different background. These instances are monopolized by lower-middle-class traders relinquishing their occupation for the status of ‘gentleman’, on slender means. In 1869, John Smith possessed estate valued at below £200, described as a gentleman of 7, Northgate Street, Leicester, but he had a former existence as a grocer in Wellington Street.(9)

The connection between capitalism and gentlemen is thus complicated. The questions advanced here are speculative, but the final database will provide the basis of a more granular dissection of the character of ‘gentleman’ in the provincial, urban, capitalist context. One category consisted of ‘poor’ urban gentlemen with slender resources, some from lower-middle-class local backgrounds, upwardly-mobile in pretended status, if not means.

1 M. J. Wiener, English Culture and the Decline of Industrial Spirit, 1850-1980 (new edn, Cambridge, 2004; first edn 1981); W. D. Rubinstein, Men or Property: The Very Wealthy in Britain Since the Industrial Revolution (London, 2006 edn; first edn 1981); P. J. Cain and A. G. Hopkins, British Imperialism (London, 1993); F. M. L. Thompson, Gentrification and Enterprise Culture: Britain, 1780-1980 (Oxford, 2001).

2 E. M. Forster, Howards End (London, 1910).

3 Jack London, The People of the Abyss (London, 1903), p. 315.

4 T. Piketty, Capital in the Twenty-first Century (Cambridge, MA, 2014), p. 117.

5 Robert Tressell, The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists (published posthumously); M. J. Daunton, Just Taxes: The Politics of Taxation in Britain. 1914-1979 (Cambridge, 2008).

6 For the differentiation in 1881 and in general for the NPR, Rubinstein, Men of Wealth, pp. 18-24

7 Piketty, Capital, p. 131.

8 R. M. Pritchard, Housing and the Spatial Structure of the City: Residential Mobility and the Housing Market in an English City Since the Industrial Revolution (Cambridge, 1976), p. 136 (although not acquiring City status until 1919). Knighton was incorporated into the borough of Leicester by boundary extension considerably after its initial suburban development.

9 National Probate Register, 1869 Sabben-Squires, p. 248.