Please use this identifier to cite or link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/2381/28263
Title: Civic Culture and Citizenship: the Nature of Urban Governance in Interwar Manchester and Chicago
Authors: Hulme, Tom
Supervisors: Gunn, Simon
Tallack, Douglas
Award date: 1-Oct-2013
Presented at: University of Leicester
Abstract: This thesis explores and compares the ways in which citizenship during the interwar period was formulated through an understanding of both the damaging effects, yet also potential benefits, of living in the modern city. In both Manchester and Chicago, municipal government and local voluntary associations cooperated in an attempt to create citizens who were physically healthy and imbued with the spirit of urban community. This understanding of citizenship challenges the recent historiography of Britain and the US, which has emphasised the rising importance of national identity between the wars, and the linking of citizenship to the democratic responsibility of exercising the right to vote. As a comparative analysis, it argues for viewing the urban variable as the key point of convergence in both places. The city was not a neutral or passive container; it was the development of the urban environment and its government that directed the form that citizenship took. Fears in both cities surrounding issues like the impact of the slums, the emergence of new forms of leisure, growing segregation and social stratification, and a perceived escalation of political radicalism encouraged associations and government to intervene and create new environments of health and cooperation. This urban notion of citizenship was apparent in the variety of linked areas that the thesis analyses: the educational materials used to incite civic loyalty; the evolution of the ‘youth problem’ in the 1920s; the design of schools arising from scientific investigation of the physiology of children; the design of public housing in Britain after the Housing Act of 1919 and in the US through the Public Works Administration after 1933; the public ritual enactments of city community during civic festivals; and the facilitation of welfare distribution following central government legislation across the period in Britain and during the New Deal of the 1930s in the US. The thesis however also recognises the fundamental differences in context between the two; most notably, the extensive power of municipal government in Manchester, the level of racial animosity in Chicago, and the rapid rather than piecemeal rise of the central state in the US. I make three related arguments. Firstly, although other forms of national citizenship were evident, the urban was still vitally important to citizenship in the interwar period. While contemporaries argued that it was the modern city that damaged the health and morals of its inhabitants, both the city and its government were concurrently reimagined as something to be proud of, and responsible for, due to its guarantor status for the life and health of its citizens. Secondly, citizenship was produced through policies and activities that focused on the body of citizens in relation to their immediate environment. In youth clubs, public housing, state-provided schools, and the distribution of charity, contemporaries tried to instil ideals of personal health and collective interaction and belonging. Finally, these environments and policies were created and managed through a civic culture of voluntary associations and government, primarily local but increasingly central. While the central state was growing during this period, it reinforced rather than negated the power of urban association and citizenship, by providing the funds and physical structures for urban citizenship to be created. After 1945 however, with the establishment of the classic welfare state in Britain and the rise of civil rights facilitated through the courts in the US, notions of citizenship moved further toward the national and broke from the interwar emphasis on the city and its governance. By acknowledging the differences between the two cities and countries, yet concentrating on the similar operation of civic culture and the shared importance of the urban environment, this comparative approach reveals the fundamental characteristics of citizenship formation in Britain and the US during the interwar period.
Links: http://hdl.handle.net/2381/28263
Type: Thesis
Level: Doctoral
Qualification: PhD
Rights: Copyright © the author. All rights reserved.
Description: Due to copyright restrictions all images have been removed from the electronic version of this thesis. The unabridged version can be consulted, on request, at the University of Leicester’s David Wilson Library.
Appears in Collections:Leicester Theses
Theses, School of Historical Studies

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