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Gentrification and the Enterprise CultureBritain 1780-1980$
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F. M. L. Thompson

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780199243303

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199243303.001.0001

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Consumption, Culture, and the ‘Unenterprising’ Businessman

Consumption, Culture, and the ‘Unenterprising’ Businessman

(p.98) 5 Consumption, Culture, and the ‘Unenterprising’ Businessman
Gentrification and the Enterprise Culture


Oxford University Press

Martin Wiener argued that when businessmen became ‘detached from the single-minded pursuit of production and profit’ they became unenterprising, inefficient, and unsuccessful. This chapter tests this proposition by examining two broad sets of businessmen who by definition did not devote themselves to the unremitting pursuit of profit: the hunting and shooting set, and the art collecting set. A third set of businessmen remained committed to the puritan-evangelical precepts against self-indulgence, idleness, personal extravagance, and wasteful, unproductive activities. Foxhunting businessmen initially rode with hunts close to the main industrial concentrations rather than with the most fashionable and aristocratic hunts, but their participation increased so much that by the Edwardian years it was said that ‘two-thirds of every field are businessmen of sorts’. There was similar business penetration of shooting, especially of grouse shooting and deer stalking. Art collecting by businessmen, spearheaded by Lancashire and Yorkshire textile manufacturers, became an important form of support for living artists and for the subsequent endowment of provincial art galleries. There were landed businessmen, aristocratic bourgeois, among the businessmen involved in these two sets, but many more of them were simply successful business and professional men, perhaps pseudo-gentry. There is no evidence that they were less enterprising or less competent than the third set of unremitting profit-seekers.

Keywords:   unenterprising businessmen, foxhunting, deer stalking, grouse shooting, art collecting, profit-seekers, Martin Wiener

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