Patriotism and Empire
Music-Hall entertainment, 1870–1914
in Imperialism and Popular Culture
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Nineteenth-century music hall was known as the 'fount of patriotism'. While some observers praised this development, others such as J. A. Hobson condemned the music hall for manipulating working-class opinion in favour of exploitative imperialist policies. This chapter presents the debate about the influence of music hall on attitudes towards imperialism in the period 1870-1914. It discusses the development of music hall, in particular the social composition of audiences and the determinants of the content of the songs and acts they watched. The chapter offers an interpretation of the various meanings given to patriotism in music hall and related entertainment. It explains the changes in music-hall patriotism over time, and by so doing to throw some light on the complex issue of popular attitudes towards the Empire in this period.

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