Society & Culture






This thesis examines the changes in the economy and society of Manchester during the period 1750 to 1800. It quantifies the central economic importance of the textile industry to the town, and also demonstrates the importance of the industry to the urban polity, identifying a “hidden government” of the town, predominantly comprised of men associated in different capacities with the production and marketing of textiles. The thesis endeavours to reconcile the “macrohistory” of inventions and national economic history with the “microhistory” of the innovation of new technology, and the ascertainment of its impact, within the town and region of Manchester. A number of measures are used to determine the physical extent of the “Manchester Region”, which is identified as being predominantly a concentrated area of textile production, rather than a marketing region. The different Manchester markets are identified and explanations given for the transformation of those markets during the period. The crucial importance of this transformation, and its demographic and other impact on the town, is demonstrated. The role of entrepreneurs and entrepreneurship is examined and the significance of different forms of capital discussed. The study shows that an undue focus by historians on fixed as opposed to working capital can result in misleading conclusions about the significance of different sectors of the textile industry. The study also discusses changes in the nature and remuneration of labour during the period. Finally, the changing relationship between the different social groups and the elements of the culture of those groups is explored.