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Social Control and the Education of Adults in the Nineteenth and Early Twentieth Centuries

The Role of Religion, Natural Law, Science and Useful Knowledge in Curbing Licentiousness, Promoting Moral Rescue and Averting Working-Class Dissent

by J. Jeffrey Robinson

Paperback eBook PDF

Publisher: BrownWalker Press
Pub date: 2013
Pages: 326
ISBN-10: 1612337058
ISBN-13: 9781612337050
Categories: HistoryHistory & BiographySocial Science


An almost universal concern of the Victorian governing classes was with the question of social control: how to deflect a largely uneducated working class from their inevitable challenge to the centres of power, accepted value systems and existing authority structures. The fear in which the masses were held by the middle and upper classes came to dominate access to education or, more accurately, to what they defined as "useful knowledge," since this was designed to instil the values of a just and ordered society. Conversely for the working class, it would give them power; power over their own lives and in so-doing provide access to that social hierarchy currently valued by the governing minority.

This book addresses the role of the providers of education alongside the responses of those for whom it was intended. It discusses the provision of educational initiatives and the frequent attenuation of their founding objectives. It assesses the utility of the strategies of power and control adopted by the providers in order to maintain an upper class ideology.

Though evidence is discussed in a national context, it is supported by additional data from a rural county both for the purpose of comparative analysis and in order to add character and hear the true voice of the men and women involved.

About the Author

Jeffrey Robinson holds an M.A. in Urban Education and a Ph.D. in History and Sociology of Education. His graduate studies were developed to address questions of power in the nineteenth century adult education enterprises. During his long career in education, he has worked as a teacher, as a principal of a large adult education institute, and as a county manager of adult and continuing education enterprises. Dr. Robinson is the author of two texts on management and teaching, as well as a number of journal articles.