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    Reverses of fortune : masculinity and financial failure in the middle classes in England, 1835-1895

    Flint, Marian Anne (2019) Reverses of fortune : masculinity and financial failure in the middle classes in England, 1835-1895. Doctoral thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    Abstract

    Historians have generally accepted a model of masculinity wherein financial solvency was a crucial measure of success. This thesis examines and challenges that view, problematising the idea of the man as successful breadwinner being a cornerstone of middle-class masculine identity. It examines neglected aspects of men’s lived experience, including indebtedness, bankruptcy and the receipt of charity, and, through this, reveals that the effect of financial failure was more complex and nuanced than usually thought. It also considers how these “failed” men were viewed by their families. It demonstrates that a financial crisis did not have to lead to material ruin and that the emotional and societal consequences could be negotiated by those who were shrewd. Middle-class men who knew how to present themselves within the accepted parameters of their class did not necessarily lose status. Furthermore, through the “patriarchal dividend”, they always enjoyed the possibility that their fortunes might improve. Conversely, women’s status depended on the lives and social position of others. How a middle-class man understood and thought about his situation was influenced by the prevailing social discourse but personal life choices relating to, for example, profession and marriage, and the need to negotiate emotional survival could override its impact or produce confusing feelings. This thesis shines a light on the men and their families who occupied a liminal position of reduced fortunes and thwarted expectations in the middle classes.

    Metadata

    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Date of PhD award confirmed as 2019 by registry. This thesis is not currently available for public use. Embargo extended until 16th March 2023.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 23 Jul 2019 15:54
    Last Modified: 17 Sep 2021 16:43
    URI: https://eprints.bbk.ac.uk/id/eprint/40411

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