By Sarah Pickard
This entire, interdisciplinary assortment examines assorted types of anti-social behaviour in Victorian and modern Britain, supplying a special comparability of the tools which were hired by way of governments to manage it.
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Extra resources for Anti-social Behaviour in Britain: Victorian and Contemporary Perspectives
Popular access to lowbrow literature or ‘penny dreadfuls’, as well as the 20 Anti-social Behaviour in Britain popular illustrated press, generated considerable anxiety among politicians and intellectuals insofar as this aspect of the problem combined both hereditary and environmental threats, placing as it did those held to be morally weak at the mercy of an emerging and, as yet, poorly understood, mass medium. What Deana Heath (2010) has called the ‘politics of moral regulation’, was pressed into service through the judicial system – as in the high-proﬁle prosecutions in 1888 and 1889 of Henry Vizetelly for the publication of ‘obscene’ literature (his translations of La Terre and other works by Émile Zola).
One such body was put in place in Islington’s Upper Street in 1870 to deal with an ‘intolerable’ outbreak of rowdyism in the borough. While some marvelled ironically that private individuals were taking on tasks which the police were paid to do (Punch, 1870), there was clearly support in some quarters for seeing ‘respectable inhabitants of the vicinity’ administering ‘a sound thrashing here and there with a stout cane’ to the borough’s roughs (John Bull, 1870). An article from the Saturday Review, published some six months before the Islington initiative, gives a sense of the bleak mood in conservative circles at the time regarding law enforcement in the capital.
By the 1880s, Charles Booth was investigating similar social phenomena using a much more rigorous methodology. His Life and Labour of the People, publication of which began in 1889, was an intricate, street-by-street survey of the East End of London, from which Booth and his collaborators produced equally intricate, colour-coded poverty maps, quantifying the living conditions in each district. What Mayhew, Mearns and Charles Booth progressively establish, as they each reformulate the ‘social question’, is the link between ongoing urbanization and the existence of large-scale poverty.