1st Edition

Networks of Influence and Power Business, Culture and Identity in Liverpool's Merchant Community, c.1800 to 1914

Edited By Robert Lee Copyright 2024
    522 Pages 87 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    During the nineteenth century, Liverpool became the heart of an international maritime network. As the 'second city' of Empire, its merchants and shipowners operated within a transnational commercial and financial system, while its trading connections stimulated the development of new markets and their integration within an increasingly global economy. This ground-breaking volume brings together ten original contributions that reflect upon the development of the city's business community from the early-nineteenth century to the outbreak of the First World War with an emphasis on the period from 1851 to 1912.

    It offers the first detailed analysis of Liverpool's merchant community within a conceptual and historiographical framework which focuses on the economic, social, and cultural role of business elites in the nineteenth century. It explores the extent to which business success was predicated on the maintenance of networks of trust; analyses the importance of business culture in structuring commercial operations; and discusses the role of ethics, trust, and reputation within the changing framework of the business environment. Particular attention is paid to the role of women and the important contribution of the family to commercial success and the maintenance of social networks.

    Changes in business practice and social networks are also examined within a spatial context in order to assess the impact of the development of a distinct commercial centre and the clustering of commercial activity on interaction, reputation, and trust, while particular attention is paid to the effect of suburbanization on existing associational networks, the social cohesiveness of business culture, and the cultural identity of the merchant community as a whole.

    1. Networks of influence and power: the forging of Liverpool’s merchant community
    Robert Lee

    2. The Mercantile Liverpool Project Database: Sources and Findings
    Randolph Cock, John Davies, Robert Lee, and Sari Mäenpää

    3. The business environment
    Graeme Milne

    4. Ethics, trust and reputation
    Graeme Milne

    5. ‘THE VISIBLE EMBODIMENT OF MODERN COMMERCE’: The development of Liverpool’s commercial centre
    Joseph Sharples

    6. Kinship, Friendship and Partnership: The social networks of the Liverpool merchant community
    Sari Mäenpää

    7. Intersecting worlds: women, the family, and merchant culture
    Robert Lee and Sari Mäenpää

    8. ‘THE MARK OF OPULENCE, TASTE AND SKILL’: Liverpool merchants’ houses, c.1750-c.1900
    Joseph Sharples

    9. ‘To Purer Air and Brighter Skies’: Escaping from the City
    Joseph Sharples and Adrian Jarvis

    10. Suburbanisation, Community Building and the Fragmentation of Business Culture: the impact on Liverpool of residential development on the Wirral
    Robert Lee

    11. Deconstructing Liverpool’s Merchant Networks: transience, religion, politics and business interests
    Robert Lee

    12. Associational Culture, Social Influence and the Cultural Embeddedness of Merchant Networks: a reassessment Robert Lee

    13. Postscript
    Robert Lee


    Robert Lee was the Chaddock Professor of Economic and Social History at the University of Liverpool where he is now an emeritus and research professor. He has written widely on European demographic, economic, and social history, particularly on the nineteenth century and specifically on nineteenth-century Germany.