The Victorian Family by Anthony S. Wohl Review by: David Vincent Social History, Vol. 4, No. 3 (Oct., 1979), pp.

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In his introduction.OctoberI979 Reviews 541 MichaelRose looks at one occasion.we neverreallyconfront the middle class.this bookhasthe virtuesandfaultsof almostall collections essays.or in the answers arefound.the papersdeliveredvariedin both contentand qualityand whilst it is doubtlessusefulto have a recordof the event. It is more than forty yearssince G. .in the methodsusedto answer questions. on and She concentrates its character-forming case-work. is C. The Victorian and Familymaysuggest some of the domesticrootsof these contradictions stresses. unreasonable expect a single argumentor conclusionto emerge from a to symposium this sort. Britain. Like most conferences. seeksto establishthe unitarynatureof its theoryand practice. and were of provoked the determination the Armyto seeka 'permanent by lodgment'intoughworking-class One of the more communities. 'unifyingthe separate contributions a concernwith is the relationship betweenthe innerdynamicsor structure the familyand society'.229 on Wed.O. ?7. of course. and there is little coherencein the questionsposed by the variousscholars.There of is much to interest. His subjectis the SalvationArmy riots of late-Victorian affectedat least sixty small and medium-sizedsoutherntowns in the years I878-9I. . it is a bookto be welcomed.72. Questionsandghostsstalkthe book.and were sanctionedin some areasby publicansand magistrates. Even so. The Victorian Famiy (1978). informand excite. ministersand the police. in his classicessay on Victorian England. And we havevery are little indeedon ruralsociety. David Jones University College. In the finalanalysis.S. AnthonyWohlhas to resortto ever broader generalizations he attemptsto findsome pattern his material.and the fearsof rebellionand/ordemoralization raisedand then left in the air. it has now almostbecomea truismto talkof Victorian societyas an amalgam of contradictory fact.Viewsof povertymaychange. and even less of substancein his ingenuousdefence of the diversityof his material:'Much of the evidenceis but contradictory.). He examinesthe compromises conflictsamongst those who had the task of saving men from pauperismand demoralization duringthe Cotton Famine.when workmenrebelled riot and againstthe agenciesof charityand control.Swansea Anthony S. Unfortunately to the the contentsof this bookareless thanits title promises.168. Wohl (ed. The nine essaysdeal only for with isolatedaspectsof this huge topic. M. but the attitudesof socialworkers of and the practicalresponseto povertycontinuedto reflectthe severe individualism the early The final contribution by VictorBailey.95). arethe proceedings of a symposiumon the Victorian familyheld by the (American)Northeastern VictorianStudies Associationin the spring of I975. of self-confidence innerdoubts. nor for that matterGarethStedmanJones! Certain issues.the Staleybridge of I863 . 14 Nov 2012 13:58:57 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . such as the role of the state and privatecharity.These and is one of the best. as in There is not much meaningin the assertionthat. of fascinating aspectsof the chapteris Bailey'sexamination the tensionswhichthe Armycreated withinworking-class culture. but one leaves the bookwith a sense of frustration. 224 (Croom Helm.she says. but it mightbe hopedthatthe contributors of wouldgivea greater indication of havingat least listenedto or readeach other'spapers. We are back to educatingthe professionals.the legal systemand social control.Herewe havea volumewhichappears to be a majorcontribution the processof remedying long neglectof the topic.Whatwe have. and a few chaptersare very good indeed.drew attentionto the centralimportance the Victorian of family.' and This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. the that It is. there is small justification attachingsuch a sweepingtitle to the resultingbook.JudithFidodoesa similarjobon the Charity Organization Societybetweeni869 and I900. Young.

and as a resultwe are left in some doubt as to what exactly is 'Victorian' about the Victorian family.Not all the essaysin this collectionare as careful in their treatmentof the natureand cause of change. The one to disciplinewhich remainsunder suspicionis that which in some ways seems to havethe closest naturalaffinitywith family history. the Brontes. On the other hand the contributions cannot be said to constitutea majoradvancein technique or subjectmatter.the paterfamilias. In this case the very conceptof or the 'VictorianFamily' is not helpful. the usingsuch statisticsas beforegoingon to she are available carefullyto definethe sectionof the population is discussing to exploit more literarysources.72.Elsewhere of there is a tendency abouthumanbehaviour to borrowassumptions fromauthorities suchas Erikson Riesman and and wield them as if they were objectivetruths. numberof procedural A pointscan be drawnfromthis volume.DeborahGorham's a to interesting study of the connectionbetweenthe familyand publiclife of the Hill dynastyof publicservants . yet the centralquestionmust be whetherthereis anysense at all in talking the 'Victorian' This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192.The firstis that with a subjectso largeand relatively unexplored the Victorian as family. Connected with this problem is that of socialclass. to the detrimentof both historyand psychology.women'snovels. whateverthe discipline involved. In a sense. 'the breadthof topics and treatments will provokediscussionand point the way to futureexploration'.and the exampleof DeMauseis not encouraging.for periodization dependson an analysis the character a society.229 on Wed. Howeverthereis a sense in whichthe sheervarietyof the material doesfulfilthe hopeof Wohl's introduction. 14 Nov 2012 13:58:57 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . For the rest there is no firmconsensusaboutthe preciseperiodunderdiscussion. childbirthhaveall receivedattention and elsewhere. Despite its shortcomings volume is probably morevaluable thanShorter's recentover-ambitious attempt a general at survey. some of the essays. AgainTheresaMcBrideexemplifies correctapproach. Third.and Wohl'sessayon working-class incest which successfully demonstratesboth the necessity of studying the topic and the of near-impossibility findingout very much aboutit.542 Social History VOL 4: NO 3 Individually. but familyhistoryposesparticular as problems manyaspectsof the familychangeextremely slowly and do so withoutclearlydefinedwatersheds turningpoints.areof considerable quality and the volume as a whole does containmuch fascinating material manystimulating and ideas. all historyis a matter chronology. The only essay which reallyfits the book'stitle is John of Miller'son childbirth.which is in fact largelyaboutthe personal experiences QueenVictoria.Brooks his sensiblyeschewsthe temptationto pschyoanalyse subjecton the groundsthat even with so well-documented a case.McBride already has published widelyon the Victorian servant. Cross-fertilization must be possible.and MichaelBrooks' intelligent pieceon the Ruskinhousehold.that. the cottonspinningfamily. that of psychology.Onlytwo of the essaysintroduce newperspective the studyof the family.the field of the familyand politicshas yet to be openedup .but it will haveto be undertaken with extremecaution. absolute care must be taken with chronological of and development with the problemof socialclass.In his study of the Ruskins. and that it is extremely difficult to make useful generalizations from the psycho-history one is still much too early for any sort of satisfactory this synthesisto emerge. the Ruskins.and this is no of of merequibble.such as TheresaMcBride's detailed discussion the Victorian of nanny. Elsewherethere are references the 'Victorian'idea of this and of that.andthe forces the whicharechanging one of the failingsof this bookis a lackof rigourin approaching problem it: and of the interrelationship between industrialization the family. The great virtueof Theresa McBride's essay is that she situatesher analysisin a preciseperiodand at a particular point in the development the middle-class of economy. Wohl is surely correctto stress the need for a catholicityof approach the subject. and togetherwith most of the other topics of the essays. too much speculation is involved.

and merelygive empirical substantiation widerand to more generaltheses. 14 Nov 2012 13:58:57 PM All use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions . withinwhich the local study must be placed. The rationalefor this provision is examined extensivelyby Daunton. Dr Dauntonhas chosenfor his periodof study I870-I914. between which membersof which families.whichnotonly precedes formation is. The studyof localhistoryhas moveda long way since the examination St Helensand Sheffield. ?12. 9. in most cases. and The shift from macroeconomic studies of the Britisheconomy and society in the nineteenth century. David Vincent University Keeke of M. This initiativewas taken by the Second Marquisof Bute. a periodin whichhe arguesCardiff operatedas 'Coal Metropolis'for South Wales. privatepeople. CitY. and consequentlyRoberts's attemptto use the works to get beneaththe conventionstends to go roundin circles. and the theme continues throughoutthe book. This book raisesmore questionsthan it answers. To study the familyis to study the private lives of. It is becomingincreasingly clearthat as with. S.October 1979 Reviews 543 Familyas distinctfrom the 'workingclass' familyor the 'middle class' familyin the industrial society. The Victorian Revolution: Helensi75o-igoo (Liverpool. Leicester. Coal Metropolis Cardiff z870-z9z4 (z177).to moredetailedinvestigations the localareahavetended.229 on Wed.and on a largerscale than anywhere else on the South Walescoastline(23).72. Barker. This content downloaded by the authorized user from 192. for instance.168.growthbeing rather the resultof the provisionof harbourfacilitiesearlier. but they did not knowpreciselyto what extent. Locationtheoryhas often been used to explain urbangrowth. but in the case of CardiffDauntonclaimsit has no validity. In consequencemuch debate has arisenas to the valueof the local study. Daunton. and in the end Wohlcan do little morethan restatetheir ignorance. St 1954).to staywithinthe of of parameters traditional economichistory. Increasing interestin the phenomenon urbanization. and with what consequencesfor the individuals involved. J. Pollard. J.The nineteenth-century middle class knew that incestoccurredwith distressingfrequencyamongthe workingclass.and makesa valuable contribution to the existingliterature.the historian evidencewill ever allow him to answer.2Dr M. but also shapes their role as agenciesin a developingsociF!ty'. of I workswhichin theirowntime madea dramatic in impacton research economic socialhistory. A fourthpoint is raisedby Wohl'sessayon incest. of housingconditionsandzoningeffectshas given new impetusto the local study. but that has its limitationsas David Roberts illustrates his investigation the light shed by the memoirsof whathe looselycallsthe 'ruling in of It class'. on the notionof the paterfamilias.Autobiographical materialmay help the family historiana little. which attempts to point the way towards a theoretical assessmentof the processof urbanization. vol.urbanization 'a societalprocess. J. turnsout that most of the autobiographers the used prevailingconventionsto discusstheir privatelives. Dyos and M.00). Daunton's bookon Cardiff must be placedwithinthis context. Wolff (eds). the of particular cities. Merseyside A Townin theIndustrial '959). however.As Asa Briggshas commented. C. 2 H. 260 (Leicester University Press.A History Labour Sheffield of in (Liverpool. Bute's monopolistic 1 T. a large land and mineralowner in South Wales.1 ( 3). wantsto ask manymore questionsthan the available ancient history. some of the most fruitfulworkto appear comingfromthe discipline of historical geography.

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