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Drawing on moving personal accounts-letters, oral histories, and memoirs-as well as original documentary evidence found in parish records, histories, and demographic data, Hugh McLeod explores the role of religion in the everyday life of working-class communities. The book reveals how belief and unbelief are related to the experiences of poverty, social class and alienation, to the ways in which people celebrated rites of passage and survived personal crises, to relationships between men and women, and to political organizations. McLeod examines the link between secularisation and the growth of cities as centres of working-class life, and chronicles how new forms of religiosity arose alongside secular political movements and remained a force among the poor even as institutional attachments diminished. Another important contribution is the book's discussion of the gendering of religious experience.
Hugh McLeod is professor of Church History at the University of Birmingham and president of the British branch of CIHEC (International Church History Organization). He is the author of several books in the comparative history of religion, including Class and Religion in the Late Victorian City and Religion and the People of Western Europe 1879-1970.