Organise! Organise! Organise! Collective Action, Associational Culture and the Politics of Organisation in the British Isles, c.1790-1914

Date / time: 31 January, 12:00 am

Organise! Organise! Organise! Collective Action, Associational Culture and the Politics of Organisation in the British Isles, c.1790-1914


Call for Papers, deadline – 31 January 2023

Conference takes place, 20-21 July 2023, at Durham University

This conference will explore why, how, to what ends, and with what effects people in Britain and Ireland organised and were organised for political purposes during the long nineteenth century. It aims to deepen our understanding of the complex and diverse extra-parliamentary politics of organisation, and to drive forward debate about the forms and extent of participatory and representational political cultures, outside of and during elections.

From clubs, societies, associations, and unions, to issue-based campaign movements, to party-political bodies, and to electioneering activities, organisational ideas and practices played important roles in shaping and navigating a rapidly changing political world. In what forms and circumstances were political networks established, maintained, supported, and opposed? What were the perceived and actual impacts of organised, collective political action on political culture, the political system, and the body politic, and on public and private life? What was its power to politicise, mobilise, make demands, disseminate information and ideas, or to suppress? What cultures, behaviours, belongings, sites, and spaces emerged from and were challenged by such political activity? What were their representational and claim-making relationships to, for example, class, religion, gender, race? How was participation in and exclusion from political activism encountered and experienced emotionally, physically, and materially?

The keynote address will be given by Professor Katrina Navickas (University of Hertfordshire), historian of protest, collective action, and contested spaces in Britain.

Topics and themes related to the history of political organisation in England, Ireland, Scotland, and/or Wales could include but are not limited to:

  • Party-political organisations, single-issue campaigns, protest movements, pressure groups
  • Urban, rural, local, regional, national, transnational connections
  • Structures, strategies, theories, motivations, practices
  • Aims, demands, audiences, outcomes, contributions
  • Participation, representation, and exclusion based on gender, race, religion, class, work, home, education, age, health Sites, spaces, places
  • Sights, sounds, smells
  • Material, print, visual cultures
  • Emotions, experiences, performances
  • Cultures, rituals, memories, languages Identity, sociability, community, the self, agency
  • Tradition, generations, expertise, knowledge
  • Power, authority, government, the law

Please send proposals of c.250-300 words for 20-minute papers to by 31 January 2023.

The conference will take place on 20-21 July 2023 at Durham University

We hope to publish a selection of papers as a special issue of Parliamentary History  for 2026 (submission in February 2025).