‘A Full and Particular Account’: Representations of Morality and Justice in Broadside Discourse

  • Kate BatesEmail author


This chapter will now focus in detail on what broadsides can tell us about nineteenth-century working-class attitudes to crime, law, morality and punishment. Evidence from a discourse analysis conducted on 650 broadsides will be presented and several distinct categories revealing contemporary perceptions of criminal justice will be discussed, with broadside evidence regarding public attitudes to execution being given especial focus. Overall, it will be argued that broadside discourse reveals widespread popular support for criminal justice and that the working classes experienced great anxiety regarding crime and disorder in society. For example, broadsides reporting on horrific murders often reveal intense moral outrage and concern for the threatened civility of the nation. This therefore necessitates a shift in the interpretation of broadsides, since close analysis reveals that their content embodies popular mentalities more often than state agendas.


Broadsides Discourse Representations Working class Crime Criminality Criminals Victims Criminal justice Law Society Morality Punishment Executions Sentences Sensationalism Religious doctrine 


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© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Liverpool John Moores UniversityLiverpoolUK

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