Invisible working-class men: Police constables in Manchester, Birmingham and Liverpool, 1900-1939
Wiener, Martin J.
Doctor of Philosophy
This dissertation provides an occupational study of police constables in the three provincial English cities of Manchester, Birmingham, and Liverpool from 1900 to 1939. As a study of police life, it challenges the social control and police historians who support the thesis that policemen lose their class identity on joining the force. My findings indicate that policemen were able to adopt those parts of the police image that were helpful or attractive, such as their role as upholders of justice, without losing their cultural identity. Police constables remained members of the working class and interpreted the duties of policemen within a working-class context. As a study of the working class, this work expands on the theory that working-class members not only had their own culture but also were able to adapt and preserve that culture from interference from the establishment. While Robert Storch put forward this idea for the working class generally, but excluding policemen, I have extended it to include policemen as part of my thesis that policemen need to be recognized as members of the working class. This ability to resist interference from above is apparent in their practice of giving priority to duties that assisted the working class over those that hindered working-class activities and in their continuing working-class marriage patterns in spite of constant attention from their superior officers. The dissertation also confirms the conclusions of Elizabeth Roberts, John Gillis and other historians of the working class on working-class family life, neighborhood life, and sexuality. Having access to written police records rather than the primarily oral evidence of these historians, however, my evidence modifies their conclusions in areas such as premarital sexuality and adultery where oral evidence can be less reliable. Finally, as a history of the everyday lives of police constables, the dissertation allows a group that is usually historically silent to speak for themselves about their lives.
European history; Sociology; Individual & family studies; Industrial sociology; Labor relations