He is at pains to point out that: We are clearly dealing with a society which improved its position greatly over two centuries fromstrengthening its political institutions, its economic base, its strategic position, its colonial presence. It is the differences between such regimes which explain their differing patterns of development.
Notwithstanding a very real appreciation of Clark's achievement in reconstructing the historiographical landscape of England in the long eighteenth century, it has not been able to escape without suffering serious criticism from a varied assortment of scholars.
The work is a serious and scholarly contribution of a very high quality. These include: spurious notions of a bourgeois revolution, of a constitutional ideology and an issueless political stability, of an industrial revolution, of a proletariat without belief or dignity, exploited to finance a bleak new world of possessive individualism.
Social relationships were still inclined towards deference rather than class enmity. They do not appear to have conceived of England as an ancien regime, preferring to compare her with Sweden and Holland rather than with the hated Catholic powers of France and Spain.
There's a problem with this paper. To picture an ancien regime in the ways adumbrated in English Society is to remind ourselves of the substantial compatibility of the hegemony of the traditional elite and of the orthodox religion with broadly-diffused commercial activity and incipient industrial growth.
If English Society does not quite convince the reader of the validity of all of its many and varled theses and arguments it nevertheless has served to reawaken interest in many neglected features of the ancien regime and thus to reposition the debate about the kind of society that England was during the long eighteenth century.
How, he asks, should historians explain the sensational financial and economic advances of the period, the much-lauded establishment of parliamentary government and limited monarchy, the repeated military victories against the national enemy, France, the spectacular expansion of the British empire and, not least, after the Acts of Union of andthe emergence of a united kinqdom?
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