Hayton, S 1995, A search for the underclass: a comparative study of cellar dwellers in Manchester, Salford, Stockport and Rochdale, 1861 - 1871 , PhD thesis, University of Salford.
The concepts that lie behind my thesis are one of perception and reality - the perception of nineteenth century observers and the reality of the census returns. The perceptions drawn will relate to many aspects of the underclass. The aspects will include the ethnic background, the morality, the habitation and the danger posed by the underclass to the society in which they lived. I will also consider the perceived forces that lay behind the creation of such a class. In the first section, I will consider perceptions that have been drawn from a wide authorship. The authorship will include social novelists such as Disraeli and Elizabeth Gaskell, visitors to the north west of England - Kohl, de Tocqueville, Cook Taylor etc. I will also consider the perceptions of both newspaper reporters and professional enquirers. These works will cover a wide time scale - 1830s to 1890s. In this way we will be able to test whether the perceptions of the underclass changed, not only through authorship, but over time. The second section - the reality section - will be based primarily on the information contained within the census enumerators' handbooks for Manchester, Salford, Stockport and Rochdale for 1861 and 1871. Use will also be made of the 1851 return. Every designated cellar dwelling and its inhabitants on the 1861 and 1871 returns has been listed and analysed. The analysis has then been compared with the perceptions, in every aspect, that have been drawn out in the first section. In this way, I hope to test, firstly, whether an underclass did exist and, secondly, whether it lived in the worst housing conditions to be found in some of the industrial towns of the mid-Victorian north west of England.
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