Story: Social sciences

Beatrice Webb's diary, 1898 (2nd of 2)

This highlighted excerpt is from the diary of Beatrice Webb for 12 August 1898, during the visit she and her husband, Sidney, made to New Zealand. The Webbs were keen observers of the social conditions in New Zealand. Both were Fabian socialists, but this did not prevent a certain snobbery in their opinions:

'The two houses we visited – the house of the editor of the Star and of a large importer lacked taste: the ugly bamboo furniture, plush and silk drapings, thick common carpets, hideous chromos [chromo-lithographs], typical of the ordinary lower middle class English household. The social life consists of picnics and tennis parties in the summer: dances and progressive Eucre parties in the winter: these last meet 30 to 60 at different houses; must be equal men and women. Sets go with neighbourhoods, some suburbs being more exclusive than others. No reading or debating clubs among young well-to-do people: young women have no ambition but to enjoy themselves. Free and easy tone. Pleasant impression of general comfort among the working population who seem to enjoy themselves as much as do the well-to-do and have agreeable independent manners; assuming equality of treatment by all of all.'

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London School of Economics Library
Reference: PASSFIELD/1/1/19

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How to cite this page:

Peter Clayworth, 'Social sciences - Forerunners of the social sciences', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 3 December 2021)

Story by Peter Clayworth, published 22 Oct 2014, updated 1 Jun 2015