An overview of English radicalism
in English radicalism in the twentieth century
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This chapter provides, first, an overview of the development of English radicalism to the end of the eighteenth century, and its main ideological constituents. Secondly, it analyses three of the central strands of English radicalism in the twentieth century: the labour movement, the women’s movement and the peace movement. Within this historical framework, the political elements of English radicalism are discussed. The vexed question of ‘agency’ – of how best to achieve the radical changes required, within a profoundly conservative culture – is a particular concern. Whilst parliamentary and other established institutions are by no means precluded as vehicles for achieving radical change, extra-parliamentary social movements have been at least as important. Moreover, for some of the key figures discussed here, they were the primary if not the exclusive focus for both activism and the underlying social theories.

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