The petty bourgeoisie in colonial Canterbury : a study of the Canterbury Working Man's Political Protection and Mutual Improvement Association (1865-66), and the Canterbury Freehold Land Society (1866-70).
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This thesis argues for the existence of a distinct petty bourgeois socio-economic class, with particular liberal values, in colonial Christchurch. It approaches this through an examination of two related mid-Victorian Christchurch institutions, the Canterbury Working Man's Association and the Canterbury Freehold Land Society, and of the wider activities of their members. The first chapter looks at the issue of class definition and identity, and perceptions of the social topography of the mid-Victorian period. The four chapters that follow relate the characteristics of the British petty bourgeoisie to the colonial environment, and in so doing, distinguish a colonial petty bourgeoisie that is broadly similar, but with some significant variation. These differences centre on the ideology of liberalism, and its idealistic precept, 'independence', The independence oriented colonial environment produced a petty bourgeois who were assertively liberal. This shows in a heightened expectation of government intervention in employment and land distribution, and serves to highlight differences between the political liberalism of the petty bourgeois and that of the governing bourgeois. The individualistic and idealistic notion of a colonial independence also meant that the petty bourgeoisie pursued a different course of self-improvement than did their British counterparts. Some self-help institutions important in Britain were insignificant in colonial Christchurch. The acquisition of land became particularly pivotal, though a disjunction between rhetoric and practice shows that this may have had a different meaning for the petty bourgeois than it did for other classes of colonist.