Rutland: the development of a county community within the modern age
thesisposted on 07.07.2017, 15:10 by Hilary John Crowden
This thesis aims to explore aspects of a largely intangible aspect of rural change: that of affiliation and affinity, to Rutland, a small county within the English East Midlands. It aims at an evaluation and possible explanation of the position that Rutland held as an iconic English rural community towards the end of the twentieth century. This thesis’s originality and contribution to knowledge lays in its conceptual framework and its holistic methodology bringing together two themes and various approaches to the study. Conceptually it uses the idea of the 'imagined community', originally used to explain forms of nationalism, along with the notion of a 'county community' developed to explain social cohesion within the provincial structure during the seventeenth century. It brings these two concepts together and translates them through to the modern age in the consideration of Rutland, famous for its tenacity in defending its county identity. Differing aspects of administration, culture and representation are studied using a range of sources to provide evidence to argue that concentrating on the dual elements of affiliation and participation, the county community concept can be extended from the seventeenth century and be a useful tool in studying modern rural society. In a parallel emphasis the roles of different forms of representation are used to give credence to the argument that they were different imagined communities of Rutland dependent upon the point of view of the cultural agent involved as much as the position of the viewer, the consumer of the product. A common factor in the majority of these representations is the consideration of Rutland as part of the rural idyll of the English countryside. Conclusions are drawn as to the veracity of this mythology and its role in sustaining community spirit and reinforcing a perceived distinct county identity in the modern era.