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'Shew Yourselves as Men': Gender, Citizenship and Political Propaganda in the 1773 and 1774 Worcester Election Contests
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of History.
Number of Authors: 1
2017 (English)In: Parliamentary History, ISSN 0264-2824, E-ISSN 1750-0206, Vol. 36, no 3, 346-360 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

This case study of the 1773 and 1774 election contests in the city of Worcester investigates how members of the local oligarchy, and the political opposition to that oligarchy, drew on contemporary discourses on citizenship to convince the electorate that their candidate would become a worthy representative of their city in parliament, and to refute the claims of their opponents. Since independence was absolutely essential to the voters' identities as male householder citizens, this became the main issue of conflict. The candidate of the opposition interest, Sir Watkin Lewes, sought to establish himself as the guardian of the independence of the citizens of Worcester against the corrupt corporation. The candidates of the corporation, Thomas Bates Rous and his successor, Colonel Nicholas Lechmere, instead claimed that Lewes was the real threat, as his anti-corruption campaign deprived the voters of the usual fruits of the election. While such claims also entailed an appeal by the local elite to the financial interest of the voters, the need to justify this incentive ideologically, and the high portion of voters who turned their backs on their patrons, does suggest the power embedded in the concept of citizenship in the political life at the level of the localities. Gendered and classed conceptions of citizenship, furthermore, were employed as offensive weapons in the political propaganda surrounding the elections, as each faction sought to discredit the other by claiming that they were neither manly enough, nor of the proper social status, to qualify as worthy political subjects. Thus, citizenship was not only fundamentally gendered in the masculine, but also highly hierarchical and equally intertwined with contemporary notions of class.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2017. Vol. 36, no 3, 346-360 p.
Keyword [en]
citizenship, class, gender, independence, parliamentary elections, political propaganda, Worcester
National Category
History
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-149036DOI: 10.1111/1750-0206.12317ISI: 000413411700006OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-149036DiVA: diva2:1157966
Available from: 2017-11-17 Created: 2017-11-17 Last updated: 2017-11-17Bibliographically approved

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