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Civic Ritual, Commemoration and Public Celebration in Urban Britain, 1850-1950
Foyalty 255

Civic Ritual, Commemoration and Public Celebration in Urban Britain, 1850-1950 (Hardback)

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This is the first in-depth study of urban ritual in relation to the British industrial setting. Centring on a case study of three communities which witnessed contrasting experiences of industrialisation, it charts the way municipal ceremony was utilised to showcase urban development, local identity and community pride. By drawing upon municipal records, press reports, visual culture and ephemera, it considers a wide range of public events such as royal celebrations and commemorations, urban development ceremonies, local jubilees and public funerals, to uncover the evolution of civic ritual over a century. This represents a significant step forward in relation to the burgeoning field of urban ritual studies by recognizing the importance of precedent in the planning of civic ritual and its potential to be a form of entertainment. In doing so, it establishes the way municipal politicians and community leaders utilized civic ritual to convey specific meaning and to rival neighbouring towns and cities.

Civic Ritual, Commemoration and Public Celebration in Urban Britain, 1850-1950 makes an original contribution to the literature on civic ritual by comparing and contrasting previously unconnected ceremonial events. While previous studies suggest that civic ritual declined from the late 19th century, this study demonstrates that local celebrations were remade as recreational opportunities in response to cultural change. The interdependency of seemingly unrelated civic events is made clear, as similar or identical civic ritual was repeated for various ceremonies. Through the adoption of recreational commemoration and the use of modern technology, the public became active participants in municipal ceremony. This allowed civic ritual to be implemented in a manner which kept pace with socio-cultural development and the mass leisure industry, shedding considerable light on the national use of urban ceremony in the process.

Ben Roberts is Part-Time Lecturer at Teesside University, UK.

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