Ian Inkster’s intent in these studies is to move beyond the high culture and expertise of science towards the construction of the culture of urban communities. The work draws on a mass of detailed research and focuses on Britain's social and cultural advantages over other industrialising nations in the years prior to the Great Exhibition of 1851, an advantage which was not created by any single decision, nor by any explicit investment effect. Out of urban culture emerged a public sphere and an information system within which class divisions were abrogated; at the same time the relations between information and technique became complex and decidedly non-linear. So was created a social asset drawn upon by business interests, technicians, tinkerers and inventors throughout the period, and for some considerable time beyond it. Industrial Britain was made from diverse materials, amongst which were those fabricated in the course of cultural dissent and social ambition.
Table of Contents
Contents: Introduction; Mental capital: transfers of knowledge and technique in 18th-century Europe; The public lecture as an instrument of science education for adults- the case of Great Britain, c.1750-1850; The social context of an educational movement: a revisionist approach to the English Mechanics’ Institutes, 1820-1850; The development of a scientific community in Sheffield, 1790-1850: a network of people and interests; Marginal men: aspects of the social role of the medical community in Sheffield 1790-1850; Science and the Mechanics Institutes, 1820-1850: the case of Sheffield; Culture, institutions and urbanity: the itinerant science lecturer in Sheffield 1790-1850; Robert Goodacre’s astronomy lectures (1823-1825) and the structure of scientific culture in Philadelphia; Science and society in the Metropolis: a preliminary examination of the social and institutional context of the Askesian Society of London 1796-1807; Scientific culture and scientific education in Liverpool prior to 1812 - a case study in the social history of education; Cultural enterprise: science, steam intellect and social class in Rochdale c.1833-1900; Index.
'The volume...add[s] up to more than the sum of its parts. Together, Inkster’s essays make a case for the substantive contribution of provincial scientific culture to the industrial revolution.' Victorian Studies