David W. Howell and Kenneth O. Morgan (eds.), Crime, Protest and Police in Modern British Society : Essays in Memory of David J. V Jones
David W. Howell and Kenneth O. Morgan (eds.), Crime, Protest and Police in Modern British Society : Essays in Memory of David J. V Jones (University of Wales Press, Cardiff, 1999), x + 248 pp., ISBN 0-7083-1555-0
1It immediately emerges from this edited collection of essays that David Jones was a widely respected historian, colleague and teacher. His early death was shocking, yet the decision to publish an edited volume of essays dedicated to Jones' contributions to social history can be applauded. He was an influential scholar developing his trade during the social history 'revolution' of the 1960s, and he clearly developed great drive and enthusiasm for history, particularly Welsh social history. This collection follows Jones' own academic interests (crime, popular protest, and policing), melding a wide range of methodological tools with a diverse historical field. In doing so, this collection is both consolidatory and challenging in its emphasis. For example, Clive Emsley continues to pursue the under-researched element of comparative policing, drawing contrasts and comparisons between the British and French systems of policing and their representation within modern popular culture. John Archer further develops the incidence of rural crime, adding to his own work and that of David Jones within poaching. In so doing, however, Archer introduces a new dimension to the debate. Whilst it can be argued that poaching in the rural South and East of England was traditionally related to poverty ; Archer's analysis of the Lancashire conurbation raises the important issue of poaching as an area of organised crime to serve the markets of the major urban areas of the county. There is also a general challenge to traditional economic and social history, in that there is an emphasis, as Jones himself was well known for, on the Welsh experience. Welsh history understandably constitutes a diverse field, similarly to Jones' own work, as evidenced in Dorothy Thompson's warm appreciation of his work and friendship, and Dwyryd Jones' bibliography of his colleague's publications.
2The introductory chapter by David Howell and Kenneth Morgan identifies three key themes that reflect the wide academic interest of David Jones : Welsh social history, popular protest, and crime and policing. An additional theme may be added to this list, that of the underlying debate over consensus and conflict. Morgan's his-toriographical essay on Welsh social history astutely raises the interdependency of consensus and conflict within modern British society. Archer also recognises these two juxtaposing, yet reinforcing, notions in discussing the prevalence of rural traditions such as poaching (which can be clearly identified historically in East Anglia). Ideas relating to consensus and conflict can also be identified clearly in Howell's essay on rioting in eighteenth-century Wales, Owen Ashton's work on the Chartist and Republican W. E. Adams (a 'second-line Chartist'), and Neil Evans' portrayal of the unemployed in South Wales and their reaction to the Means Test. The fundamental conclusion that emerges from this wide range of case studies is that it is too naive to differentiate between consensus and conflict in a practical sense where institutional and personal relationships are far more complex than the theory of Weber et al. allows them to be.
3Another key area of interest that emerges from this collection is the idea of regionality. Gone are the days when widespread generalisations could be made about the spatial experience of British social and economic history. Jones can be partly thanked for such a shift in emphasis from the national to the local. However, in pursuing local differences and contingencies, Jones also identified relationships between the local and the national, and recognised that the local dimension can, and does, reinforce the national debate. For example, his work on Welsh Chartism was not conducted as a distinct trajectory to that of English Chartism ; rather, it both challenged existing assumptions about public order and added to an already strong national picture, whilst also locating the nature of Welsh Chartism and the Rebecca Riots within the long-term process of rioting and social disorder. Thus, work on Chartism, poaching, policing, and public disorder highlights clear and discernible regional variations in experience, whilst also serving to add to the national picture. For example, Ashton's essay illuminates the differences between Adams'
4Cheltenham Chartists and those groups more inclined to physical force. This is, of course, related to organisational and personal influence within the different regions of Britain. However, a further strength of Jones' personal contribution to the history of crime and public order was his ability to draw comparisons between traditionally distinct categories - the rural and urban, the religious and secular, the political and apolitical - and contend that experience of crime, disorder and policing ran across spatial boundaries. It is evident that the experience of policing is bound to have had clear differences in, for example, industrial Birmingham and agricultural Cambridgeshire, yet Jones was able to discern similar patterns in language, thought and action in, for example, the imposition of police forces in these contrasting communities, their duties, and the public perception towards them.
5The major strength of this collection is that, whilst it may arguably appear deliberately disjointed in places, the themes that emerge are interrelated, and the book successfully moves beyond a mere analysis of crime, protest and policing. Rather, the essays variously contribute to debates concerning class, particularly regarding the formulation of distinct groups and classes within society. In so doing, various organisations and influential individuals are identified as challenging, often in an organised manner, such alleged organic societal 'norms'. For example, Hugh Dunthorne presents a lucid assessment of the influence of Cesare Beccaria's Essays on Crimes and Punishment (1764) on convincing early-modern English reformers of the necessity to moderate the penal system and introduce aspects of rehabilitation. Ashton's work emphasises the diverse influence of W. E. Adams, both as a Chartist agitator and a republican, in local, national and international circles through the establishment of societies to create links between like-minded groups, such as the Friends of Italy or the Friends of Poland. Neil Evans introduces the role of organisational agitation on a much broader scale, drawing parallels between the Chartist marches on Newport gaol in 1839 and those of the National Unemployed Workers' Movement and the various other unemployment clubs in South Wales in marching against the unpopular Means Test from 1934-1936.
6In pursuing this line, however, other essays in the volume respond by tracing changing perceptions towards the institutions responsible for maintaining law and public order, underpinning such norms, in society. Thus, the police, as the official 'agent' of government (in its broadest sense), whether political or apolitical, remain sensitive to public opinion. This is represented in Peter Stead's essay tracing the growing battle over viewer figures for 'Cop TV from the 1970s onwards, which can be juxtaposed with the traditional perception of the local 'bobby' (a.k.a. Dixon of Dock Green) of the 1950s and '60s. Modern police television drama is more reflective of the late twentieth-century policing environment and, in particular, the police officer and his/her relationships with colleagues. It emerges that even the police officer is susceptible to 'scandal' - whether financial or sexual - and 'corruption', and is not actually, as traditionally represented, above the law. The recent change in emphasis of ITV's The Bill, and BBC's City Central clearly reflect this shift. Meanwhile, Clive Emsley compares traditional public perceptions towards the police in Britain and France, drawing parallels between the centrally imposed gendarmerie on the continent, and the locally accountable police forging friendly ties with the public on the British streets. The idea that the British public consent - either tacitly or explicitly - to the notion of their police as the defenders of public order is thus contrasted sharply with the idea that the French public have little input into the structure and function of the state's police system.
7This book, thus, is a fitting tribute to the life and work of David Jones. It is a mix of idealism and pragmatism, melded with a concise analysis of the empirical date, which forges an interrelationship between crime, protest and policing and the wider economic, social, and political environment. In celebrating the work of Jones, it also helps to set the agenda for future research in this field. With the recent shift towards an emphasis on inter-personal crime and violence, and government strategies towards crime statistics and police administration, Jones' work is regularly referred to in footnotes as a major methodological contributor to this field over the past three decades. His work, therefore, retains both its relevance and interest for all social and economic historians alike.
Pour citer cet article
Shane Ewen, « David W. Howell and Kenneth O. Morgan (eds.), Crime, Protest and Police in Modern British Society : Essays in Memory of David J. V Jones », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies, Vol. 5, n°2 | 2001, 167-170.
Shane Ewen, « David W. Howell and Kenneth O. Morgan (eds.), Crime, Protest and Police in Modern British Society : Essays in Memory of David J. V Jones », Crime, Histoire & Sociétés / Crime, History & Societies [En ligne], Vol. 5, n°2 | 2001, mis en ligne le 02 avril 2009, consulté le 23 mars 2017. URL : http://chs.revues.org/755Haut de page
© DrozHaut de page