UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Missing in style : public school elites and the Victorian economy McLean, Edward Byron


Great Britain's steady decline as a world power has prompted much study, including quantifiable economic analysis and post-imperial sociology. Historical, studies have generally declined to claim cause and effect links between these two areas, but it seemed worthwhile to investigate one possible area of overlap. Victorian Britain's period of greatest imperial and industrial pressure was also marked by extensive reform and expansion of the system of great public schools. The thesis investigates the congruences between these two developments and their joint effects upon the nation's industrial and public sector leadership. It is contended that public schooling in the Victorian era was distinctive, self-consciously exclusive and inherently hostile to the needs of business and science. As the source of leaders for a closed and patrician society, it was particularly ill-suited to the demands of industrial competition and may have been the major source of Great Britain's subsequent economic decline.

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