Policing the Pub

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Williams, Rhys




This paper starts and ends with the English pub. And the concern here is for how it was policed, from the seventeenth century up to the First World War. Interconnected are concepts of drunkenness, idleness, disorder, class and social control; all of them key variables when analyzing the politics behind England's many drinking houses, and how they developed. Our lens is one of 'policing': a working philosophy developed by European police theorists to govern entire populations towards productivity. Policing is about social control, about adapting unwanted behaviours and peoples towards favourable ends (generally bourgeois and industrial). Public houses for the poor and working class (alehouses, ginshops, beerhouses etc.) were, consistently, accused by England's ruling interests (and others) of breeding drunkenness, idleness, and social degeneracy. Slated, regularly, for regulation and reform; pubs became ideological sites of class conflict where Drink's many interests battled for moral influence and political spaces. Early policing methods were the initiatives of individual Kings and rogue rulers, but the nineteenth century witnessed comprehensive (and sometimes united) policing programmes aimed at reforming and reducing drinking houses en masse. Action and reaction; these battles between groups, and within groups, would shape the pub.






Carleton University

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