After the Shock City: Urban Culture and the Making of Modern Citizenship

Research output: Book/ReportBook


After the Shock City is a comparative and transnational study of urban culture in Britain and the US from the late nineteenth to mid-twentieth century. Using the industrial cities of Manchester and Chicago as case studies, the book traces the idea of ‘citizenship’ across different areas of local life – from philosophy and festivals to historical re-enactment and public housing. Coalitions of voluntary associations, municipal government and local elites lambasted modern urban culture as the cause of social disintegration. But rather than simply decanting the population to new and smaller settlements they tried to re-imagine a reformed city as a place that could foster loyal and healthy communities. Celebrating civic progress in the period since the ‘shock city’ of the nineteenth century, they sought to create a sense of local pride that could bracket growing class and racial tensions. The diverse individuals, groups and communities of the city reacted in different ways to this message. Some jumped on board, happy to gather under the identity of one civic banner. Others, held back by discriminatory structures of society, chose to shape their own idea of citizenship – one that looked far beyond the city for a sense of belonging and rights. Historians have tended to emphasise the rise of national identity, state centralisation and popular patriotism at the expense of distinctive local identities, municipal autonomy and expressions of civic pride. After the Shock City redresses this imbalance and demonstrates how local ideas of belonging could still exert a powerful hold until at least the 1930s.
Original languageEnglish
PublisherBoydell and Brewer
Number of pages220
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-78744-474-4
Publication statusPublished - 17 May 2019

Publication series

NameRoyal Historical Society Studies in History

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