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Drink and Society: Scotland 1870-1914
By Norma Davies Logan in two parts

thesis presented for the Degree of Ph.D. of the University of Glasgow October 1983. This research was conducted in the Department of Modern History, University of Glasgow, financed by a Scottish Education Department Major Scottish Studentship.


Chapter 1 gives a brief chronological outline of the emergence of a 'drink question', its origins and phases, and notes the main temperance pressure groups established over 1828-70.

Chapter 2 describes the fortunes of the Scottish Temperance League, Scottish Permissive Bill and Temperance Association, and Independent Order of Good Templars in terms of organisational structure and personnel, with reference to social class, possible social mobility, class collaboration, philanthropy, and social reform interests. The importance of Glasgow as a focus of temperance pressure is stressed.

Chapter 3 describes moral suasionist ideologies, their inspiration, and implimentation via strategies involving traditional temperance propaganda techniques, plus novel introduction of pressure on teachers, School Boards, and the Education Department for 'temperance lessons', and its effects. The remarkable range of rroral suasionist counter attractions are described and evaluated under their various headings. The movement's creation of opportunities for social mobility are highlighted.

Chapter 4 describes the shared ideas (and/or assumptions) of the moral suasionist temperance movement and thrift reformers. The spectrum of thrift institutions in which temperance reformers were interested is discussed against the background of urbanisation, housing and environmental reform. The importance of moves away from static class categories featuring the rise of a new 'white collar' commercial class is discussed, as is the temperance/thrift movement's contribution to this process. The origins and progress, and organisation and personnel of the acme of the moral suasionist/thrift movement, the Independent Order of Rechabites, are described. Rechabites' idiosyncratic attitudes to National Insurance are delineated and explained, against the background of the temperance interest in health questions and the popularity of Friendly Societies like the Foresters and Shepherds.

Chapter 5 describes Prohibitionist ideology in terms of the social aspects of evangelicalism, the Nonconformist Conscience, links with social reform and radical politics. Prohibitionist tactics, utilising Anti Corn Law League and anti-slavery devices, pressure on the Liberal Party reminiscent of the Liberation Society, and organisation of an independent S.P.P. are studied.

Chapter 6 details briefly local temperance pressure group politics through the medium of licensing restriction, and against the backdrop of general trends in Victorian urban reform and the 'civic gospel'.

Chapter 7 concerns the licensed trade, or Trade, and its reaction to temperance pressure group politics. The origins, structure, and success of Trade defence are discussed with particular reference to the Glasgow area.

Chapter 8 attempts a very brief social pathology, focussing upon the medical profession and the clergy, women and children, and working men. Each of these sections of society could be the subject of a Ph.D. Within the confines of this thesis however it is only possible to describe the reception given to the 'drink question1 by each of these groups, and the question's relevance for the professional status of doctors, the social Christianity of the late 19th century, the role of women and children in society, and the 'respectability' of the Labour Movement.

Chapter 9 Concludes that the Scottish temperance movement's apparent strength was a source of weakness. Temperance societies proliferated, but the ideological differences between the two main groups, the moral suasionists and the prohibitionists, were never resolved. This was ironic given the similarities between their memberships. Temperance's great attraction was that it reinforced desire for social mobility, yet class assertiveness as well as class collaboration is evident in societies like the I.O.G.T. and especially the Rechabites. The pervasive influence of the •drink question' over the years 1870-1914 was the work of the moral suasionists. Their work was a response to urban society, and also to the needs of the new white-collar commercial class. This accentuated the natural limitations of their work.

Reformers of this type were at worst rather Philistine, but the discovered that it was remarkably difficult to dictate popular taste - as did the Clarionites. Prohibitionists, champions of the 'drink question' in pressure group politics, also found that success had a bitter after-taste. They sought classcollaboration but found that the 'drink question' not only polarised politics for the Trade but was also a feature of the labour movement's shift to the Left. This was predictable given many reformers' keen sense of 'social justice'. The success of Local Veto in 1913 was therefore a Pyrrhic victory. Local Veto's effect on the Trade was limited, and pressure group politics, Nonconformist Crusades, and even individual charity was rendered passe by the Great War, 'class-politics', and the disintegration of the liberal Party.

Part 1  |  Part 2

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