Rural resistance
in Protest and the politics of space and place, 1789–1848
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This chapter examines why Chartism and other ‘urban’ movements failed to take hold in certain regions, but also how other forms of collective action, including agitation against enclosure of common land and the Swing riots of the early 1830s, show that rural areas were far from politically inactive. Luddites, Swing agitators and enclosure rioters enacted a defence of communal rights against privatisation and laissez-faire political economy. They fought for the vestiges of common rights but also the new rights of organised labour against the deskilling effects of mass capitalism in both industry and agriculture. Rural resistance involved embodied practices that transcended the divide between cultural and natural perceptions of the environment.

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