Suffragettes was the name given to the members of women’s organizations in the early 20th century who fought for their right to vote in public elections. The term refers in particular to the members of the woman social and political union, an only women movement founded by Emmeline Pankhurst, which engaged in direct actions and civil disobedience, including chaining themselves to railing, smashing windows, setting fire to postboxes and empty buildings. Setting bombs in order to damage churches and property and break into the Houses of Parliament. In exchange, they were attacked and sexually assaulted during the battles with the police. When they were imprisoned, they continued reacting against repression by going on huger strikes, to which the government responded by force-feeding them.

One of the most important events was the imprisonment of Dora Thewlis, a teenage mill worker, who support the cause at the age of 16, being therefore known as the ‘baby suffragette’, in a mission of braking into the Houses of Parliament. Soon, this event was the front page of the Daily Mirror with a photo of Dora Thewlis struggling her way out of the two police officers holding her.

Another of the most well-known events is the death of one of them, Emily Davison, who ran in front of the king’s horse in order to put him a scarf that said: ‘vote for women’, in the 1913 Epsom Derby. This event made headlines around the world.

However, men, as stated in Virginia Woolf’s Three Guineas, have been able to influence people’s thoughts and actions due to their involvement in every area of public life, having almost exclusive access and control over education, law, diplomatic service, stock exchange and civil service, so women’s access to these areas was very limited, being exhausting and even humiliating for them to achieve the vote. They were even relegated to insignificant positions in Church and they had no access to Armed Forces whatsoever. It is true that they could write articles and send letters to the press, but the decision of what was printed was in male’s hands, which made them being ever more excluded and, thus, under the dominant role of men in a patriarchal society. The patriarchy she talks does not only state the political readership, moral authority, control of property and social privilege of men over women, but also explains this dominance through the innate natural difference between males and females. This dominance can be even seen through language, where ‘mankind’ is the word used to refer to both genders and ‘woman’ the word used to express that females are complement of men. Thus, men are the ones who speak in representation of women in a patriarchal society.

Virginia Woolf claims that this differentiation between genders is a social construction and not a natural outcome of innate differences. This social constructed difference is observed clearly even through signifying practices, that is how within a given context, this are made to mean, which are culturally influenced, such as dress, which was, and is, used to express social position of genders. For instance, the two police officers holding Dora are showing their authority as men over women, since women could not be police officers at the time. Dora, dressed with the clothes women wore, challenges the socially-constructed idea that women cannot be quarrelsome too.

Thompson was an historian with a Marxist background, whose interests in political radical sets him apart from other authors we studied. He, like Hoggart, followed culturalism, a perspective that stresses human agency, or active production of culture and not its passive consumption. His book The Making of the English Working Class, embodies this term, since in it he traces the development of the English working class between the years 1780 and 1832, more or less the time encompassed by the Industrial Revolution. The book can be seen as a rescue operation of the members, especially radical ones, of the working class lost in a history lead by the deeds of monarchs, military leaders, statesmen and politicians. These ‘other histories’ with the working class as active agent change challenge it. His technique involves tracing key moments of radical conflict, analyzing resistance and political struggle. Some important events in the radical working class agency are the popular revolts that influenced the English Jacobin agitation at the end of the 18th century; the particular experience of industrial workers to gain insight of the industrial discipline through methodism and Methodist Church (the poor law); and finally, the story of plebeian radicalism in relation to working class consciousness and politics such as Luddism. Chartism is an honorable mention since, despite being outside the limits of The Making of the English Working Class, it gives an idea of what was lacking in Britain before, during and after its existence.

The key thing is that he puts the working class at the center of historical change, as an active agent, rejecting the notion of being simple pawns. The emergence of the working class is seen as an active process and the working class as a product of an active struggle. It is not a definition or a structure, but something what happens. Working class is not isolated, because it exists in relation to other classes: their existence in one of antagonism, or an opposition between the ruling classes or capitalists, the exploiters, and the rest, the exploited. This conflict and each class’ uniqueness emphasize the working class identity and the fact that the classes are not simple but complex.

Working class is the translation of experience into culture, which leads to class consciousness and a sense of belonging, awareness and handling of these experiences. All in all, experience consolidates identity, and Thompson links it to a growth of political consciousness too. Between the years 1780 and 1832, the working class felt an identity of interests amongst themselves and against their employers or rules.

He also paid close attention to working class radicalism or the working class as a ‘revolting class’. First, we should examine the term radical, which refers to roots, being at grass level, which refers to the lowest class. The term radical also applies to a social movement performed by laborers, usually carried out by revolts and riots. Of course, they faced repression. Working class radicalism and corresponding societies go hand in hand, since Thompson describes them to give historical substance to the raise of working class radicalism. At the end of 18th century, working men began clubs and societies like the London corresponding society, which channeled radical ideas. However, its institutionalization and organization of the working class posed threats to the ruling class. By the start of the 19th century, London corresponding society and Thomas Paine’s The Rights of Man, a key book in political radicalism, were banned, but circulated in secret, moreover, a Combination Acts prohibited mass meetings. The reactions against repressions continued to contribute to the gain of consciousness and motivate non-conformist ideas.

Thompson conclusion was that, despite the strength in unity of monarchy, church and upper classes, by the 1830’s the working class had been consolidated and was a force. Its demands and rebellions entailed repression but the confrontations helped to consolidate the ruling and working classes even more.