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Class and the civilising process social factors in the organisation of museums in the nineteenth century

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Abstract

In this thesis I first consider some ways in which the developing economy in the Nineteenth Century affected both local and national government, including policing, the Civil Service, incorporation and education. Charity, class and the ways in which economic developments led to changes in forms of leisure are discussed. This is the main concern of the second chapter which includes The emergence of large commercial outlets like music halls. I investigate whether there was a coherent mode of thought underlying these changes and whether this extended into other areas, and if so, which. Different views of progress first encountered in various histories of Nineteenth Century England are then considered. These were related to ideas about progress and civilisation. In Chapter Three these last two themes are explored and related to Elias' ideas on the Civilising Process, class and other divisions in society. In Chapter Four, these ideas are used to illustrate the history of the Great Exhibition, its organisation and the lives of some of those directly, and in the case of Pitt Rivers, indirectly, involved in it. This chapter is included because it provides an opportunity for ideas about civilisation and progress to become a formal reality. In the last chapter, the creation of some public museums is traced, especially in London, for example, the British Museum and the National Gallery. Their consequent organisation and the arrangement of exhibits are related to attempts to legislate for the creation of public museums throughout the country. It is hoped that the idea of the expert and other issues included such as the arts and manufactures debate, show how notions of civilisation and progress are entrenched in ideas linked to the economy.

Publication Date Oct 1, 1987

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