The industrial revolution precipitated important shifts in thinking about the relationship between property and the state. Before this, property was widely regarded as having pre-existed the state, meaning the latter existed to protect the former, and that the independence of property from state interference was essential to social order. By the s, however, thinkers including Matthew Arnold and J. Mill reversed this assumption to argue that property was a means to an end, that states pre-existed property, and therefore a state could interfere with property for the wider social good.
Critically examining the novels of Maria Edgeworth, Anthony Trollope, George Moore and George Meredith, Maurer challenges the assumption that Victorian narratives tended to lament the marketization of property and encourage nostalgia.
The Dispossessed State: Narratives of Ownership in Nineteenth-Century Britain and Ireland | NAVSA
She suggests instead that attitudes split along a number of axes, often alternating between thinking of ownership as a relationship between one owner and one owned thing, and considering it more as a bundle of variable rights and privileges that might be negotiated among several parties. In doing so Maurer aims to highlight the mutual influence of the multinational United Kingdom, although in practice this literary-based work conflates Britain with England.
On the one hand, some writers celebrated dispossession as the founding moment of a community forged around persisting possessive feelings directed at lost property, be they the landed elite or tenant farmers, making dispossession a more communal experience than individual landownership. Others, in contrast, imagined that the state could redistribute property and its enjoyment in a way that might draw an emerging class of landowners into a closer relationship with the state.
As Victorian ideas of property evolved away from an inalienable connection to land, Ireland offered a positive model for those who continued to respect individual property rights.
- Sara L. Maurer?
- Online Engagement.
- What Smart Trainers Know: The Secrets of Success from the Worlds Foremost Experts.
- A refereed scholarly Website devoted to the study of Romantic-period literature and culture.
- Every Boys Dream.
- Why The Ancients Knew Your Future.: Unfulfilled Biblical Prophecies.
Property rights in Ireland, they reasoned, could be discerned by paying attention to the emotions of those who felt themselves to be rightful owners, and onlookers admired how campaigns for legal recognition united Irish people. This picture of dispossession seemed to avoid the contradictions inherent in British ideals concerning ownership; that it was a guarantor of freedom by providing protection against the state, yet it considerably restricted freedom by committing its owners to exercise their power for the good of family and community, not only in the present but for the benefit of future generations.
Irish nationalists certainly promoted the idea of dispossession, with cultural nationalists in particular, using it to resist the increasingly invasive Victorian state. Yet it was the government—first Liberal, then Conservative—which gradually reframed property rights to be more consistent with nationalist demands, in the process diminishing the influence of the much criticised landed elite. As a result, even the latter used the rhetoric of dispossession to describe their changed circumstances examined here through the novels of Edgeworth.
You are here
In these contrasting ways, dispossession was applied to resist the British state and promote the increasingly anachronistic Lockean ideal that property had the function of marking off a zone into which the authority of the state could not enter. But her conclusions pose interesting questions about conservatism, especially the strain of political thought identified by Andrew Gailey as constructive unionism.
Indeed, without acknowledging it, the Dispossessed State addresses terrain mapped out by E. Green and others on the philosophical reorientation of conservatism, away from solely protecting landed privilege to constructing a wider definition of property ownership designed to win over and promote the interests of the middle classes. Fleming n. Related Papers.
By Amy Martin. By Cassidy Picken. Subscribe Now. Table of Contents. Author Bio. Supplemental Materials. The Dispossessed State.
The Dispossessed State
Sara L. Hardcover E-book.
Publication Date: Status: Backorder.