Them and Us: Imagining the Social "Other" in Britain since the 1880s: Sources (HIH3056)

StaffProfessor Jon Lawrence - Convenor
Credit Value30
ECTS Value15
NQF Level6
Pre-requisitesAt least 90 credits of History at Level 1 and/or Level 2.
Co-requisitesThem and Us: Imagining the Social “Other” in Britain since the 1880s: Context.
Duration of Module Term 1: 11 weeks; Term 2: 11 weeks;

Module aims

This module interrogates social and cultural change in modern Britain through the lens of social encounters – real and imagined – between people from radically different social backgrounds. It explores the changing interaction of class, gender, ethnicity and age as lines of social division and as sources of personal and group self-realisation. Sources include film, music, fiction, social commentary, political speech, contemporary sociology, social-science field-notes and memoirs.

The approach is interdisciplinary, drawing on perspectives from sociology, anthropology, social psychology, literary criticism and film studies as well as history. While engaging with the complex historiographies of social change since the 1880s, we will consider concepts that remain relevant for understanding social interaction today, including debates about selfhood, social bonding and social exclusion. The module aims to develop research, analytical, interpretative and communication skills that can be applied in further academic studies or in graduate careers.

ILO: Module-specific skills

  • 1. Demonstrate a detailed knowledge of the different sources through which people have imagined social difference in Britain since the 1880s, together with a very close specialist knowledge of those sources which the students focus upon in their seminar presentations and written work.
  • 2. Analyse the complex diversity of the sources studied.

ILO: Discipline-specific skills

  • 3. Analyse closely original sources and to assess their reliability as historical evidence. Ability to focus on and comprehend complex texts.
  • 4. Understand and deploy relevant historical terminology in a comprehensible manner.
  • 5. Understand broad patterns of social and cultural change in modern Britain.

ILO: Personal and key skills

  • 6. Conduct independent and autonomous study and group work, including presentation of material for group discussion, developed through the mode of learning.
  • 7. Digest, select and organise material to produce, to a deadline, a coherent and cogent argument, developed through the mode of assessment.
  • 8. Present complex arguments orally.

Syllabus plan

The module focuses on the sources for the study of social and cultural change in relation to the following indicative topics/themes: Imagining in ‘the People’ in politics; ‘Knowing’ the Victorian poor; Edwardian social investigation and sexuality; Imperialism and racialised others; Democracy and ‘the worker’; Knowing and Being ‘The Unemployed’; Mass-Observation’s Anthropology of Ourselves; Constructing the post-war ‘Immigrant’; Women, work and motherhood; Literature, Music and the ‘working-class hero’; Social-science encounters and the decline of deference; Memory and social identity; Neoliberalism and the demonizing of disadvantage; Brexit and the Nativist/Cosmopolitan divide.

The introductory sessions for this module will provide an overview of the subject and also expose you to the sources themselves. The seminars will focus on sources drawn from published and digitised resources, allowing you to develop knowledge of the subject in conjunction with the close analysis of historiography provided in the co-requisite module, and to develop skills in source analysis and acquisition. You will be expected to prepare for seminars by reading and evaluating the relevant sources in advance, and will discuss the issues raised by them in the seminars.

Learning activities and teaching methods (given in hours of study time)

Scheduled Learning and Teaching ActivitiesGuided independent studyPlacement / study abroad

Details of learning activities and teaching methods

CategoryHours of study timeDescription
Scheduled learning and teaching activities4422 x 2 hour seminars
Guided independent study256Reading and preparation for seminars, coursework and presentations

Formative assessment

Form of assessmentSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Seminar discussionOngoing through course1-6, 8Oral from tutor and fellow students

Summative assessment (% of credit)

CourseworkWritten examsPractical exams

Details of summative assessment

Form of assessment% of creditSize of the assessment (eg length / duration)ILOs assessedFeedback method
Portfolio702 assignments totalling 4000 words1-7Verbal and written
Individual Presentation3020-30 minutes1-8Verbal and written

Details of re-assessment (where required by referral or deferral)

Original form of assessmentForm of re-assessmentILOs re-assessedTimescale for re-assessment
PortfolioPortfolio1-7Referral/deferral period
PresentationWritten transcript of 20 minute presentation1-8

Re-assessment notes

The re-assessment consists of a 4,000 word portfolio of source work, as in the original assessment, but replaces the individual presentation with a written script that could be delivered in such a presentation and which is the equivalent of 20 minutes of speech.

Module has an active ELE page?


Indicative learning resources - Web based and electronic resources

Primary Sources: (digitized or on-line)


Andrew Mearns, The Bitter Cry of Outcast London (1883)


Charles Booth, ‘The condition of the people of East London and Hackney’ Transactions of the Royal Statistical Society (1888)


M.E. Loane, The Queen’s Poor: life as they find it in town and country (1905)


Maud Pember Reeves, Round about a pound a week (1913)


D.H. Lawrence, ‘A collier’s Friday night’ (1909) and Sons & Lovers (1913)


Stephen Reynolds & Bob and Tom Woolley, Seems So! A working-class view of politics (1911)


Labour Party, Labour and the New Social Order (1918)


E.W. Bakke, The Unemployed Man: a social study (1933)


Elton & Anstey (dirs.), ‘Housing Problems’ (1935)


Walter Brierley, Means-Test Man (1935)


Walter Greenwood, How the Other Man Lives (1939)


Mass-Observation Online – selected Diaries and Responses


Richard Hoggart, The Uses of Literacy (1957)


Robert Roberts, The Classic Slum (1971)


Michael Young and Peter Willmott, Family and Kinship in East London (1957)


Alan Sillitoe, Saturday Night and Sunday Morning (1958)


Richard Lester (dir.), A Hard Day’s Night (1964)


Michael Apted (dir.) ‘Seven Up’ [TV series]


Sheila Patterson, Dark Strangers: a Sociological Study of […] Brixton (1963)


Alva Myrdal and Viola Klein, Women’s Two Roles: Home and Work (1956)


UKDA, ‘Affluent Worker Study’ interview transcripts


UKDA, Pahl Papers Sheppey Study, ‘Linda and Jim’ interview transcripts


Bev Skeggs, Formations of Class and Gender: Becoming Respectable


Lynsey Hanley, Estates: an Intimate History


Owen Jones, Chavs: the Demonization of the Working Class (2011)

Indicative learning resources - Other resources

Secondary Readings: [also see Context module]


Seth Koven, Slumming: Sexual and Social Politics in Victorian London (2004)


Seth Koven, The Match Girl and the Heiress (2014)


Mark Peel, Miss Cutler and the Case of the Resurrected Horse (2012)


James Hinton, Nine Wartime Lives (Oxford, 2010)


James Hinton, The Mass Observers : A History, 1937-1949 (Oxford, 2013)


Daniel Miller, The Comfort of Things (2008)


Jon Lawrence, ‘Social-Science Encounters and the negotiation of difference’ History Workshop(2014)


Mike Savage, Identities and Social Change in Britain since 1940: the Politics of Method (Oxford, 2010)

Available as distance learning?


Origin date


Last revision date


Key words search

British history, social identity, social and cultural change.