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Church, state and locality: revisiting the historiography of “state” and “religious infrastructures” in England and Wales, 1740-1870

Church, state and locality: revisiting the historiography of “state” and “religious infrastructures” in England and Wales, 1740-1870

Martin, Mary Clare (2011) Church, state and locality: revisiting the historiography of “state” and “religious infrastructures” in England and Wales, 1740-1870. In: International Standing Committee of the History of Education. 33rd conference. State, education and society: new perspectives on an old debate, 26-29 Jul 2011, San Luis Potosi, Mexico. (Unpublished)

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Abstract

The historiographical tradition which developed within the history of education has regarded religious organisations as distractions from the real task of developing state-funded universal education. Within this paradigm, Britain fared poorly, as until and after the 1870s, most or many schools for the poor were funded by religious societies, notably the National Society and the BFSS, akin to modern-day national charities, The “discovery” by Philip Gardner in 1984 of working class schooling reinforced the view that National and British schools were avoided in favour of working class private schools. Yet this finding was not confirmed by the Newcastle Commission of 1858.

The”voluntary” schools have been characterised as intended agents of social control, with low standards and brutal discipline. The questions raised by dissenters such as Harold Silver, who questioned whether standards of discipline were brutal, and noted the diversity of inspectors’ reports, have not been pursued. Yet in the English context, the parish was the unit of organisation of “the state” at local level, and for the dispensing of relief, especially before the New Poor law of 1836. From the 1690s onwards, schools, built as adjuncts to churches and chapels, became centres of parish life, places where welfare was dispensed, locations for parish libraries as well as local entertainments.

This paper will draw on the author’s case-study of two “commuter villages” on the outskirts of London, between 1740-1870, to call for a re-conceptualisation of the place of the voluntary school within parish life. Indubitably, there was a regional specificity about this location: near London, with opportunities for employment in crafts, trades and service as well as the metropolis. Nevertheless, as many studies have been located, either in areas of heavy industry, or in rural areas, this provides an opportunity for a contrasting perspective.

Item Type: Conference or Conference Paper (Paper)
Additional Information: [1] To be published in the "ISCHE memoirs."
Uncontrolled Keywords: church, state, locality, school, religion
Subjects: L Education > L Education (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Pre-2014 Departments: School of Education
School of Education > Department of Education & Community Studies
Related URLs:
Last Modified: 14 Oct 2016 09:17
Selected for GREAT 2016: None
Selected for GREAT 2017: None
Selected for GREAT 2018: None
URI: http://gala.gre.ac.uk/id/eprint/6630

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