Nicholson, John (1982) An imperial frame of mind: imperialist and racialist attitudes in the British periodical press 1851-1914. Doctoral thesis, Keele University.

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Abstract

Study of Britain's periodical press from 1351 to 1914- reveals a widespread and continuous interest in imperial affairs. Expectations of economic reward from colonial ventures were accompanied by the desire to prevent foreign powers extending their territorial control; and outbursts of aggressive patriotism helped to justify "little wars" on the frontiers of Britain's own possessions. In addition a racial hierarchy was created to reinforce the position of the Anglo-Saxon as inherently supreme; while humanitarian motives were often expounded as rationalisations for Britain's assumption of the burden of empire.
Especially noticeable is the relationship of imperial attitudes to European and domestic concerns. Conflicts in China, India and Africa were represented as struggles between European nations, colonies being seen as diplomatic bargaining counters for civilised nations to play with. Imperial issues were also translated into domestic party political disputes, and lower races found ready comparison with the working class at home. Meanwhile the pressure from organised trade unions, militant feminism and Irish independence-seeking, coupled with threats from foreign competitiveness and increased military strength, especially on the part of Germany, gave empire the appearance of providing a solution to social and economic problems within Britain. As territory became exhausted, the focus of attention then shifted from the furthest-flung principalities back towards Europe, and tensions in the colonies gave way to those within Europe and Britain themselves.
It is impossible to estimate the influence of the periodical press upon governing decisions, despite the strong links between pres-’ and politicians; but it is clear that for the period in question both learned journal and selfhelping, free-trading middle class were in the ascendancy. Hence this press represents the largely unchronicled views of an elite in its heyday, revealing an overwhelmin'- and unmistakable imperial framework of reference, strongly motivated by Euro-, and Anglo-, centric considerations. The final resolution of these considerations, both domestic and imperial, was a war to end all wars. Such a resolution,however, also spelt the death-knell for both the unchallenged middle class ar.d their learned press.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DA Great Britain
Divisions: Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Humanities
Depositing User: Lisa Bailey
Date Deposited: 05 Jun 2020 08:51
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2020 08:51
URI: https://eprints.keele.ac.uk/id/eprint/8126

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