“Drink and the temperance movement in nineteenth century Scotland”


 PatonDC_1977redux.pdf (59.69Mb)

Date 1977

Author Paton, D.C.

This thesis sets out to record and explain the opposition to the use of alcohol in 19th century Scotland and its implications for social attitudes and legislation. Section I (three chapters) explains the national preference for spirits and emphasises the importance of qualitative changes in alcohol use such as the divergence in the drinking habits of the middle and working classes. The motivation for working class drinking is explored by means of a comparison of two occupational groups, the miners and fishermen. Section II (three chapters) considers society’s awareness of the drink question and the reaction of different social groups to it. Indifference to the problem in the 1830s gave way to widespread concern in the 1840s manifested among working people by support for total abstinence societies and among the middle classes by demands for stricter legislative controls. Section III (three chapters) examines the progress of the temperance movement in the second half of the century. The division between licensing reformers and prohibitionists is explained in terms of different views about the social orientation of the movement. It is shown how political involvements after 1868 led to the gradual reconciliation of former rivals. Section IV (one chapter) traces the change in the position of the Churches on the temperance question from an attitude of indifference to a leading role in the campaign for temperance reform by the end of the century. Section V (two chapters) looks at the extent and social basis of support for the temperance movement and the activities of temperance organisations. It indicates that support for the movement had not yet begun to decline by 1900 and that the movement received much of its support from groups at the margin of the middle and working classes. The activities of temperance societies provide an interesting example of the use of recreation and the arts in the service of social reform.