Fit to Fight but not to Vote? Masculinity and Citizenship in Britain, 1832–1918

TitleFit to Fight but not to Vote? Masculinity and Citizenship in Britain, 1832–1918
Publication TypeBook Chapter
Year of Publication2007
AuthorsRose, Sonya O.
EditorDudink, Stefan, Karen Hagemann, and Anna Clark
Book TitleRepresenting Masculinity: Male Citizenship in Modern Western Culture
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
CityNew York

This essay explores the interconnected, multi-faceted, and potentially contradictory meanings of masculine citizenship in nineteenth and early twentieth century Britain and proposes a historically sensitive definition of citizenship. It will suggest that in Britain citizenship and masculinity were mutually constitutive.  Changing conceptions of masculine virtue informed the qualifications for and languages about political citizenship.  As the male franchise broadened, and in the context of the strident and vociferous rhetoric of imperialism, the language of citizenship and the meanings of masculinity became transformed.  The essay will consider the anomalous position of the common soldier and his exclusion from the franchise until 1918.  As exemplary masculinity became more martial after 1870, and the soldier hero and the army gained status in the eyes of the public, the language of citizenship also changed, but the common soldier was still denied political citizenship until after World War I. 

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