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Studies in the popularisation of science in England, 1800-1830

Kitteringham, G. S. (1981) Studies in the popularisation of science in England, 1800-1830. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94463) (KAR id:94463)


The ideas of ordinary people about the nature and value of science have a profound effect upon both the practice and the reception of science. Despite this, little work has been done by historians on the development and characteristics of such ideas. One important process affecting this development was the popularisation of science, which is studied in this thesis in England during the first three decades of the nineteenth century.

The major subdivisions of the thesis are based upon the various media of popularisation. After an introductory chapter which discusses the place of science in society, the nature of popularisation, and eighteenth-century popularisation, chapters two and three analyse popular science books. The coverage of science is related to contemporary social groupings and four representative sciences (natural history, geology, chemistry and astronomy) are examined in detail. Chapter four discusses science coverage in both scientific and general periodicals. The subsequent three chapters examine the roles of societies and institutions in the popularisation of science. The local variations in these activities are taken into account by analysing London and provincial societies separately, but the common characteristics of many mechanics' institutions are recognised and the institutes are considered together in chapter seven. Chapter eight restates and discusses the major conclusions of the study.

Popularisation is shown to have been not merely the simple dissemination of scientific truths. The means of popularisation and even the very content of popular science are shown to have varied with the desires and beliefs of the popularisers about both the natural and the social worlds. Similarly, the audiences for popular science displayed varying degrees of receptivity to these ideas, dependent upon their social positions and interests.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94463
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Uncontrolled keywords: History; nineteenth century; History of science
Subjects: A General Works > AZ History of Scholarship. The Humanities
C Auxiliary Sciences of History > CB History of civilization
D History General and Old World > D History (General)
L Education > LA History of education
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 12 May 2023 13:57 UTC
Last Modified: 12 May 2023 13:57 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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