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Peers, Parliament and Power under the Revolution Constitution, 1685-1720

Loft, PM; (2015) Peers, Parliament and Power under the Revolution Constitution, 1685-1720. Doctoral thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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This thesis argues that the late Stuart and early Georgian period saw the development of what may be termed a ‘deliberative oligarchy’, and sets out its contours. In short, a pluralistic politics enabled competing viewpoints to represent themselves to the British state, in a way that meant interests and partisans interacted with ‘reason’ and ‘fact’. Rather than the public being spectators to politics, they were seen as fellow co-legislators, and parliamentarians increasing sought to direct the public into deliberative participatory processes. This argument builds on Mark Knights’ work on the culture of partisanship and misrepresentation during the ‘rage of party’, Paul Langford’s demonstration of the role of ‘propertied Englishman’ to the functioning of the state in the ‘aristocratic century’, the importance of Barbara Shapiro’s ‘culture of fact’, E.P. Thompson’s characterisation of the rule of law, and the extensive participation in local government. This was a distinct stage in British history, where the state became increasingly ‘reactive’ to the middling sorts, but also that ‘reason’, ‘fact’ and balancing of ‘interests’ became more important for judging policy. Partly inspired by Jürgen Habermas’ ‘two track’ model of the public sphere, the thesis considers how the ‘informal’ public sphere present in print, coffee houses and public debate was directed into, and influenced by, a deliberative parliament. The thesis examines the cultural causes of public participation—namely the concept of ‘interest’ and a ‘culture of facts’—and the nature of state structures. Using the largely unused archive of the House of Lords, the thesis systematically examines the use of the House as a British appeal court, the incidence of petitioning, and considers parliament’s relationship with the wider public sphere. These features enabled some of the partisan features of the ‘rage of party’ and ‘clash of interests’ to be contained within a pluralistic and stable political system.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Title: Peers, Parliament and Power under the Revolution Constitution, 1685-1720
Event: UCL (University College London)
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Third party copyright material has been removed from ethesis.
Keywords: parliament, eighteenth century, house of lords, political arithmetic, petitioning, litigation, public sphere
UCL classification: UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of S&HS > Dept of History
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1470375
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