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‘West Country scum’: National politics, local ritual and space in the English South West, c.1820-1832

‘West Country scum’: National politics, local ritual and space in the English South West, c.1820-1832
‘West Country scum’: National politics, local ritual and space in the English South West, c.1820-1832
Rural electoral culture and protests have often been considered as merely ‘carnivalesque’ products of an ‘inward facing’ populace. In counties such as Somerset and Dorset an obsession with regional identities, rituals and spaces has often been accused of limiting the people’s political horizons. This article, conversely, will argue that rural politicians, electors and the popular crowd used regional concerns, rituals and identities to involve themselves in national protests and debates. In the decade preceding the Reform Bill a ‘West Country’ identity was continuously mobilised in service of national political aims. Both radical and conservative politicians used regional identities to not only secure their election but also to make national debates tangible and actionable to rural people. Equally, by seizing key local political spaces and deploying rural rituals the popular crowd were able to interject themselves into national political debates, allowing them to communicate their visions of an alternate political system.
2517-7850
9-31
Baker, Leonard
435b819e-12f2-425b-a2c0-93ec3a2d1dca
Baker, Leonard
435b819e-12f2-425b-a2c0-93ec3a2d1dca

Baker, Leonard (2019) ‘West Country scum’: National politics, local ritual and space in the English South West, c.1820-1832. Romance, Revolution and Reform, (1), 9-31.

Record type: Article

Abstract

Rural electoral culture and protests have often been considered as merely ‘carnivalesque’ products of an ‘inward facing’ populace. In counties such as Somerset and Dorset an obsession with regional identities, rituals and spaces has often been accused of limiting the people’s political horizons. This article, conversely, will argue that rural politicians, electors and the popular crowd used regional concerns, rituals and identities to involve themselves in national protests and debates. In the decade preceding the Reform Bill a ‘West Country’ identity was continuously mobilised in service of national political aims. Both radical and conservative politicians used regional identities to not only secure their election but also to make national debates tangible and actionable to rural people. Equally, by seizing key local political spaces and deploying rural rituals the popular crowd were able to interject themselves into national political debates, allowing them to communicate their visions of an alternate political system.

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Published date: April 2019

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 431709
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/431709
ISSN: 2517-7850
PURE UUID: 39a2db87-f783-43c0-93be-d0d70bb6a5fe

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Date deposited: 13 Jun 2019 16:30
Last modified: 12 Dec 2021 05:12

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Contributors

Author: Leonard Baker

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