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Dr Rachel Dickinson featured on Radio 4 Making History Programme
Date: 25 November 2008
Former Ruskin AHRC Research Associate, Dr Rachel Dickinson, was recently featured on Radio 4's Making History Programme, talking about John Ruskin.
Dr Dickinson recently left Lancaster University to take up a post at Manchester Metropolitan University as a Senior Lecturer in and Programme Leader of English.
John Ruskin's Commune
Making History listener Rony Robinson lives in Totley on the south west fringes of Sheffield. It was here in the 1870s that the utopian thinker, John Ruskin founded a commune. But, what was the ambition behind it and what happened to it? Making History consultedLouise Pullenfrom the Ruskin Gallery at Sheffield Museums and Rachel Dickinson, Senior Lecturer in English at Manchester Metropolitan University
Ruskin's promotion of ideas that helped lead to the Arts and Crafts movement was related to the growth of Christian socialism, an outlook that he helped formulate in his book Unto This Last, in which he attacked laissez faire economics because it failed to acknowledge complexities of human desires and motivations. Ruskin didn't believe in competition, he believed that jobs should be paid at a fixed rate, so that the best workmen got employed, instead of those that offered to do the job at a lower price.
He argued that the State should intervene to regulate the economy in the service of such higher values. His ideas were similar to the ideas of Thomas Carlyle, but whereas Carlyle emphasised the need for strong leadership, Ruskin emphasised what later evolved into the concept of "social economy" - networks of charitable, co-operative and other non-governmental organisations. In The Stones of Venice, the chapter "The Nature of Gothic" attacked the division of labour, which Adam Smith advocated in the early books of The Wealth of Nations. Ruskin believed the division of labour to be the main cause of the unhappiness of the poor. Ruskin argued that the rich had never been so generous in the past, but the poor's hatred of the rich was at its greatest point. This was because the poor were now unsatisfied by monotonous work that used them as a tool, instead of a person.
This item was reported in: BBC Radio 4 on 25/11/2008
Associated projects: John Ruskin, Cultural Travel and Popular Access
Associated departments and research centres: Ruskin Research Centre
Keywords: Nineteenth century, Nineteenth-century culture, Ruskin, Social history 18th - 20th centuries
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