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Introduction Politics as Unusual

Introduction Politics as Unusual

(p.1) Introduction Politics as Unusual
Living Liberalism
Elaine Hadley
University of Chicago Press

This chapter presents an introduction to political liberalism in mid-Victorian Britain between the mid-1850s and the early 1880s. It describes Victorian society that mid-century political liberalism ambivalently inhabits and its distinctive response to it. It discusses the form liberal individualism took and examines mid-century political liberalism's attempted revision of the public sphere. It explores the politics of liberal citizenship and the version of abstract embodiment in the political public sphere, the liberal citizen of the ballot box, a formation that emerges in the debates concerning secret balloting, which was made into law in 1872. It describes the mid-century political liberalism's deeply fraught relation to Ireland and in this way placing mid-century liberalism in its appropriate imperial context but also to a consideration of how mid-century liberal politics sought grounding authority in a precarious world of opinion.

Keywords:   political liberalism, mid-Victorian Britain, liberal individualism, public sphere, ballot box, Ireland, liberal citizenship, secret ballot

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