Critical Thinking

p.p1 “virtually impervious” to change. One of the

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Despite there being a desire among the middle classes to see the nature of working class entertainment sanitised and broken down,  bringing about a new working class “in its own image”  , there was little that could be done. The middle class attempts to lure the poor to take part in the promotion of rational middle class leisure pursuits, such as the church and religious festivals was a failure. Seaman writes that by the 1850s working class culture was already firmly established, workers finding commonality with their peers through similar work and leisure activities. Despite the middle classes best efforts  to change the behaviour of the workers to closer reflect themselves they were “virtually impervious” to change.  One of the reasons for this is highlighted in Mayhews original source, where he writes that the middle classes ‘expect too much’ from the poor in presuming them to understand or even be interested in the same activities that they enjoy.   In fact, he suggests that trying to make the workers into something they are not will likely make them ‘fly’ back to the crude entertainment of the Penny Gaffs and pubs with even more enthusiasm.  

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In conclusion, it is my view that the agonistic attitude of the British middle classes towards the working poor’s recreational and leisure activities was largely a result of the growing class divide and sensationalised reports in the local press that sew the seeds of distrust. This fear, although perhaps not entirely based on reason, materialised in the form of the middle classes attempting to heal the lower classes and raise them to a higher moral standing through rational recreation, to little success. Furthermore the introduction of laws, specifically targeting the establishments the working poor frequented suggests those in control sought likewise to encourage more ‘wholesome’  means of entertainment. I think it would be unwise to suggest that there was a direct conflict betweenness the two groups, instead I would suggest that they existed separately, rarely coming into contact, each attempting to slowly assert their dominance on the other.  

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