By Andrew Holman
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Additional resources for A Sense of Their Duty: Middle-Class Formation in Victorian Ontario Towns
Written in 1936, Palm's treatment of Canadian events is notably cursory, but the pages that he devotes to Canada in The Middle Classes, Then and Now are significant if for no other reason than their uniqueness: besides Palm, no historian focused especially on the Victorian Canadian middle class as a class before the 19705, and very few have since. " Even so, Canadian historians since then have not pursued the historical study of class with evenness. The dominant concern among social historians in the 19705 and 8os was to unearth and give voice to the past's large numbers of inarticulate, focusing in particular on the working class.
There are various forms of human industry, and an infinite variety of employments in our busy world," Rev. M. Harvey wrote in Stewart's Quarterly in October 1870. "I honour," says Carlyle, "the toil-worn craftsman, that with earth-made instruments, laboriously conquers the earth ... " Let us not, however, forget that there is another class of labourers who are right noble too — nay, nobler than the workers in clay and iron. I mean those who toil, not with hammer and hand, but with pen and tongue and brain ...
Moreover, in defining social strata objectively, they subordinated class as a social category and the idea of consciousness to rather mechanistic indices of status based on occupational rank and economic standing. "[T]he study of social structure became the delineation of stratification rather than the explication of class," Michael Katz wrote in 1981. 19 Despite its narrowness, the clarity and neatness that an objective approach offers has commended it to some recent historians of the middle class.