With the collapse of grand narratives about 'class', how can historians explain the identity and activities of ordinary people in the past? The essays in this collection explore this problem, examining the ways in which the poor represented themselves to authority, the relationship between gender identity and status, the problems of social mobility in an unstable economy, and the politics of identity in corporate towns. Contrary to ideas celebrating an infinite diversity of identities, this volume suggests that for most people the choice of identity, and the power of people to shape their social destinies was limited, if not always predictable. These studies provide new themes and research insights into an important subject in English social history, written by some of the leading scholars currently working in these areas.

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