• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Roberts, Robert. The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century. Review

Extracts from this document...


In Robert Roberts' part-autobiographical, part recollection of village life, and part social history narrative, The Classic Slum, we see how life appeared in the slums of Salford during the early decades of the twentieth century. Roberts places all his knowledge within the context of the times, which saw people living out their days in "ghettos spawned by the industrial revolution" 1 in Britain. Essentially, Roberts' work shows that before the First World War, unskilled labouring classes in Britain's industrial slums resided in a working-class caste structure which enclosed them in a separate social world and left them without hope of ever going beyond it. This social world that Roberts depicts consisted of overlapping villages where industrial labourers, shopkeepers, and destitute people struggled to achieve and maintain respectability in the slums.2 The Classic Slum tries to deromanticize the Edwardian period; Roberts' asserts that "slum life was far from being the jolly hive of communal activity that some romantics have claimed."3 To understand how the British working class of the early twentieth century saw itself and why a social hierarchy emerged within their social world we must examine Roberts' book, which looks at the fine grained distinctions made among these poor slum residents, the characteristics which put a family on the top or bottom part of the stratification system, and their desires to be self supporting, a central social value of the proletariat. ...read more.


Upon reflection, possibly the significance of material things to the working class was a main reason why (besides a strong British identity) they never revolted. The capitalistic society of their day seems to have been important in obtaining possessions. Roberts' confirms this idea by saying that: Some historians have discerned... a proletariat ripe at last for revolution...I believe they have seriously misunderstood the mind and temper of the working men of the time. Whatever their quarrel...the ultra-patriotic mass remained intensely loyal to the nation and the system as a whole. 9 Roberts therefore argues that the working class embraced the national identity of Britain with vigour. They celebrated coronations and obsessed about the private lives of the Royal family.10 As for the favoured party, Roberts wrote that the working class preferred the Tories to the Liberals. According to Roberts, it seems that the people were unlikely to revolt and the upper classes did not expect them to, at least not in the early part of the twentieth century. In addition, Roberts wrote, "If however, one had any secret fear that the working classes might yet rise in 'unvanquishable number' it was overlain by the conviction that, put to patriotic test, they would do precisely what their masters ordered-a belief that the first world war fully bore out."11 In addition, the desire to be self supporting, a key idea for poor working class in these times, probably helped keep these people in their place. ...read more.


In Conclusion, Robert Roberts' book The Classic Slum, provides great insight into life during the later half of industrialization in Britain. This book enables an analysis of urban working class life because Roberts clearly identifies the caste system that existed amongst the proletarians in Salford and explains exactly what characteristics determined where a family would fall into the stratification system. As well, by comparing the differences in Roberts and Engels, Roberts' writing was insistently against the romantic myths of the proletariat. He saw the working class as docile as they accepted "a steady decline in living standards and went on wishing for nothing more than to be 'respectful and respected' in the eyes of men."17 Bibilography Engels, Friedrich. The Condition of the Working-Class in England in 1844. London: Swan Sonnenschein, 1892. Roberts, Robert. The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century.London: Penguin, 1971. 1 Robert Roberts, The Classic Slum: Salford Life in the First Quarter of the Century (London: Penguin, 1971), 9. 2 Roberts, 30. 3 Roberts, 49. 4 Roberts, 37. 5 Roberts, 32. 6 Roberts, 32. 7 Roberts, 36. 8 Roberts, 55. 9 Roberts, 91. 10 Roberts, 182. 11 Roberts, 184. 12 Roberts, 185. 13 Roberts, 9. 14 Roberts, 28. 15 Roberts, 37. 16 Roberts, 24. 17 Roberts, 30. ?? ?? ?? ?? Boogerd 1 ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Sociology section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Sociology essays


    With Marriage, there is an enormous inequality in the way in which the caste system operates, where people of higher class cannot marry lower castes, or severe punishments will be served. In the class system, the extremity of punishment isn't present, although some cultures in our society see that marriage

  2. "Prisons of Silence" by Janice Mirikitani - Review.

    they want to continue to live or to make a better life then they have experienced elsewhere.

  1. Compare & contrast the differences between the middle and peasant classes, village life and ...

    Tom Kytes' face is described, "'Twas a little, round, firm, tight face, with a seam here and there left by the smallpox, but not enough to hurt his looks in a woman's eye...He was quite the woman's favorite..." This shows that a woman may not be looking for the appearance of a man, but, presumably, his personality.

  2. 'Fight Club' - review.

    The actual situation is far from this vision. She calls him on what he is doing. She walks away while he is still speaking. She completely dominates him. The situation ends when she asks him what is name is. Even when the two discuss the support group days in which

  1. How Is The Harshness Of Community Life In Starkfield Conveyed By Edith Wharton?

    Therefore, all of the above are described in a gothic way and filled with despair. Nevertheless, there is a strong contradiction when Mattie is the subject. She and her surroundings are described with great energy and warmth and the house is also described in this way.

  2. How useful is the Jewish museum to the historian studying the living and working ...

    These slums were generally in the area of Red Bank. Then once the Jews had found work, they might be able to afford to move into the area of Cheetham Hill, where they could expect to pay 32 - 85pence a week (remembering that on a good salary they only

  1. Humans are... what, in Dick's narrative? Phillip K. Dick's sci-fi classic delves into ...

    They are looked down upon as sub-humans and are restricted from emigrating out of Earth in fear of "poisoning" the gene pool of the new colonies. Thus, there are three distinct groups in Dick's society, being that of humans, specials and androids.

  2. As the nineteenth century opened, life presented few opportunities for women to experience personal ...

    Because Hester was shunned by society, this tale was a reminder to women of the price that they too would pay if they chose to flaunt society's rules. As the story unfolds and Hester refuses to name the father of her child, she is not portrayed as noble or brave,

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work