Public knowledge and activism in the UK’s national health services
Ellen Stewart, Kathy Dodworth, and Angelo Ercia
Hospital closures have been a keystone of public engagement with the British NHS. This chapter explores ‘save our hospital’ campaigns through interviews with contemporary hospital campaigners in England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, and Wales. Interviewees describe high-profile public events, such as protests, within longer-term projects to build evidence for and influence thinking about the future of local hospitals. It argues that both in their public campaigning work and in behind-the-scenes efforts to influence decision-making, campaigners are actively shaping cultural representations of what an NHS hospital should be. At stake in these processes is the future of a particular hospital, but also always and more fundamentally, how society should make its commitment to universal healthcare meaningful.
This and the next chapter serve as a sustained counterpoint to ascetic radicalism by shifting the focus to the second of the two forms of affective politics which characterised popular radicalism – sentimentalism. This chapter re-examines the relationship between Richard Oastler, the factory reformer and anti-Poor Law leader, and his northern working-class supporters in the 1830s and early 1840s. It offers an alternative framework for interpreting Oastler’s popularity, that of Romanticism, and more specifically its dark cousin, the Gothic. The Gothic was an influential and enduring aesthetic in early Victorian popular culture, and one that Oastler registered powerfully. The word aesthetic is especially apt here when we recall that its literal definition relates not to beauty but sensation, and in the case of the Gothic, an excess of feeling. The chapter begins by reinterpreting key episodes in Oastler’s public career as a moral crusader for the working-classes by using the Gothic lens to highlight the aesthetic framing of his ideology. Focusing on the affective dimensions of Oastler’s politics, in particular his sentimentalism, sheds new light on why he and other Tory-radicals largely failed to achieve their political objectives in the 1830s and 1840s.
J.R. Stephens and the prophetic politics of the heart
"Few gentleman radical leaders came close to rivalling the sentimentalism of the Reverend Joseph Rayner Stephens, a reneged Methodist minister, and no name was more calculated to elicit feelings of dread and disgust amongst the propertied classes in the late 1830s. Far from being a figure of instinctive passion, Stephens developed a reasoned sentimentalism or refined sympathy: not only was it a calculated response, but it was also a logical extension and transference of his religious beliefs and feelings to the political sphere. Unfortunately for Stephens, this transference transgressed the feeling rules of Methodism, or emotional regime to use Reddy’s concept. Stephens’s biographers have presented him as self-consciously operating in the Biblical prophetic tradition, leavened by Romanticism, but surprisingly much less has been written about how his political preaching was shaped by his Methodism. By drawing on recent work which has explored the relationship between Methodism and emotion, it becomes clear that while Stephens may have resigned from the Connexion, his ‘heart-religion’, as Methodism has been termed, remained intact. It was this cluster of religious feelings, seated in the heart, which underpinned his political preaching. The final section of the chapter brings together Stephens’s faith and politics, tracing the affective dimensions of his leadership of the factory and anti-Poor Law movements. For all its undeniable appeal with working-class audiences, Stephens’s violent sympathy for the victims of the factory system and the hated new workhouses frightened and alienated the propertied classes with the result that he was imprisoned for eighteen months in 1840–1, thus bringing an end to his brief meteoric career as a political preacher, which lasted less than three years.
Religious and political celebrity in post-revolutionary England
Henry Sacheverell and Benjamin Hoadly were contemporaries whose lives and reputations were curiously intertwined throughout the early eighteenth century. Both became well-known clergymen in Queen Anne’s reign as vociferous defenders of the Tory and Whig parties respectively, and both became celebrities as a result of their public partisanship and particularly through the practice of preaching. Sacheverell’s sermon in St Paul’s cathedral on 5 November 1709 provoked a parliamentary trial for impeachment that dominated the political scene in 1710 and resulted in the collapse of the Whig government later in that year. Similarly, Hoadly’s court sermon in 1717 on ‘The Nature of the Kingdom of Christ’ provoked a massive debate in the press and the pulpits that brought about the cancellation of convocations of the clergy by the Hanoverian Crown. The public personalities and the preaching of both Sacheverell and Hoadly shaped the politics of early eighteenth-century England. This chapter compares the public images of Sacheverell and Hoadly in order to develop an understanding of the history of celebrity, understood as the status product of particular practices of partisan publicity, including preaching. Partisanship shaped the early history of celebrity in England after the Glorious Revolution, and this can be seen most clearly through studying the ways in which partisan clergymen such as Sacheverell and Hoadly used the new politics of the public sphere to generate interest in their personalities as well as their causes. Modern celebrity was in large part the product of practices of publicity in early modern England.
Ensuring adolescent knowledge and access to healthcare in the age of Gillick
Hannah J. Elizabeth
In 1985, after years of campaigning, Victoria Gillick won her battle in the Court of Appeal and removed adolescents’ rights to freely access sexual health advice and contraceptives. The case, its implications, and its after-effects were widely reported in the teenage press. This ruling, later overturned by the Law Lords, plunged teenagers, teachers, and doctors into a period of uncertainty about what information and contraceptives could be freely given to those below the age of sixteen. This confusion threatened teenagers’ access to NHS healthcare long after the ruling was overturned as teenagers were left unsure of their rights to knowledge and contraception. Ironically, Gillick’s intervention was treated as an opportunity to provide sexual health information, open discussions around consent, and bolster teenage agency at a time when it seemed to be under threat. By exploring the representation of teenage access to contraceptive services, the Gillick case, and ‘Gillick competence’ through teenage media, this chapter demonstrates how access to NHS healthcare is mediated by knowledge of our rights.
Edward Sherburne, the East India Company, and the transformation of Stuart political practices
London in the early seventeenth century was full of secretaries and clerks. In 1625, Edward Sherburne became the secretary of the East India Company. This position followed at least fifteen years of work as a secretary for a number of influential officials of the regime, including George Calvert, Robert Cecil, Dudley Carleton, and Francis Bacon. A year later, Sherburne became Clerk of the Ordnance of the Tower of London. These positions chart not just his career but his network of influence and connection. Sherburne kept formal and informal ties to many of his past employers and continued to act for past patrons sometimes years after he left their employ. This chapter examines the way Sherburne triangulated between the different responsibilities and expectations laid at his feet, the way he could use the responsibilities and perquisites of different offices to benefit different employers, and how his influence shaped the work he was tasked with. Stories of advancement and office seeking are common – less common is the experience of someone like Sherburne, whose career was modest but hard-earned. This chapter helps draw back the veil on the practices of London’s men of business, who managed the work of politics on behalf of their better-known employers.
The National Health Service (NHS) officially ‘opened’ across Britain on 5 July 1948, replacing a previous and patchy system of charity and local providers and making healthcare free at the point of use for all. By 1974, Barbara Castle stated: ‘Intrinsically the National Health Service is a church. It is the nearest thing to the embodiment of the Good Samaritan that we have in any respect of our public policy.’ This comparison crossed decades and party lines: in 1992 the former Chancellor of the Exchequer Nigel Lawson declared that the service was ‘the closest thing the English have to a religion’. By 2016, a physician publishing in the British Medical Journal asked whether the service was, in fact, a ‘national religion or national football’, paying testament to media and public critique which began at the service’s very inception. Posters, protests, and prescriptions provides a series of case studies which ask: what have the multiple meanings of the NHS been, in public life and culture? What cultural representations and changing patterns of individual behaviour emerge when an institution is simultaneously worshipped, challenged, and seen as under threat throughout its history? By looking at ‘culture’ in a variety of ways – through labour, activism, consumerism, space, and representation – this collection provides important historical insights into how and why the NHS has become a defining institution in contemporary Britain, frequently leading polls to define what Britons are ‘most proud’ of.
The introduction addresses the question of what, exactly, a mummy is. After asking why people often have difficulty in accepting that mummies are not simply ‘artefacts’, but human remains, it gives a summary of the known facts regarding the process of mummification, from both cultural and scientific perspectives. Observing that the term ‘mummy’ and its variants have been used to mean different things throughout history – from the preserved body itself to the coffin it was kept in, and even a form of powdered medicine – the author argues that the Egyptian mummy is ultimately a social construct. Furthermore, we do not fully understand what the people who practised mummification thought about it.
Post-revisionism and the history of practices in the early modern British world
William J. Bulman
This volume samples from the best current scholarship on religion and politics in early modern Britain in order to highlight one future line of inquiry for the field. The goal is to draw attention to practice as an organizing category and focal point. The volume is also meant to honour Peter Lake. My aim in this Introduction is to distil the pivotal contribution that Lake himself has made to the burgeoning historiography of practice and to show how his work points to further opportunities. This Introduction has five parts. The first summarizes and conceptualizes Lake’s version of the post-revisionist commitment to the primacy of perceptions in political and religious life. The second part explains how Lake’s concern with communicative action became the basis of a burgeoning body of scholarship on the ‘public sphere’. The third part identifies some of the inevitable gaps between Lake’s work on public politics and a fully fledged history of political and religious practices. The fourth part completes the task with recourse to broader theoretical perspectives on practice, institutions, and structural transformation drawn from the work of sociologists, economists, and other historians. The Introduction’s conclusion uses this conceptual framework to connect Lake’s work with scholarship on the history of practices in early modern Britain that falls outside the subfields of political and religious history. Throughout the Introduction, I point to specific chapters in the present volume as exemplars of the developments under discussion.
The introduction uses a case study of the Queen Caroline agitation of 1820 to set the key themes of the book: the place, nature and significance of feeling in the political culture of the period. Having established the ways in which radical leaders politicised feeling in this affair, the introduction then moves to sketch out the two key forms of what is termed affective politics which shaped popular radicalism during late Georgian and early Victorian Britain: ascetic radicalism, and sentimental radicalism, highlighting how each of the selected radical leaders (along with a rationale for their inclusion) stood in relation to these two forms of affective politics. The reader is then introduction to the burgeoning field of the history of emotions, and this book draws on and contributes to debates in this field, as well as to a critical discussion of the key terms and concepts appropriated.