Urban Liberalism and the ‘Lost Generation’: Politics and Middle Class Culture in Norwich, 1900-1935

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Abstract

This article utilizes the metaphor of the post-war Lost Generation to investigate the chronology of middle class political realignment and Liberal decline. It suggests that the Liberalism of twentieth-century Norwich owed its existence to the perpetuation of a closed culture based on business, chapel and urban residence. It questions the degree to which dissenting Liberals had been assimilated into the dominant ideology before 1914 by reference to marriage ties and associational links such as the freemasons. It asserts that the downfall of this Liberal culture in the long run, though not immediately, was the result of the Great War, which allowed the younger generation to break out of their insular world and mix more freely with the Anglican upper-middle class. However, it also demonstrates that the closed culture was such that those of the Edwardian political generation, although affected by the War, did not reject their Liberalism. Most continued to actively support the party into the 1930s, questioning the view that the middle classes had largely deserted the Liberals by 1924. Rather, it was the political maturation in the 1930s of the War generation which heralded the end of urban Liberalism and the triumph of middle class Conservatism.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)617-634
Number of pages18
JournalThe Historical Journal
Volume38
Issue number3
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Sep 1995
Externally publishedYes

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