GaWC Research Bulletin 467

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Associational Life in the Rounding out of Dynamic Cities: An In-depth Methodology and Application to Newcastle City-Region in the Nineteenth Century

M. Barke and P.J. Taylor*



In her classic theory of economic development Jane Jacobs (1971) identifies ‘explosive city growth’ as the key mechanism. Less well known is her description of a broader urban consequence of this rapid change that she terms the rounding out of the city, a new array of goods and services for the local population. Her list of these for her ‘home town’ Scranton, Pennsylvania in the first half of the twentieth century are given as a zoo, a museum of natural history, a central public reference library, several hospitals, ‘several stuffy but imposing clubs’, departmental stores, city departments for fire fighting and public health services, and a trolley-car system (p. 160). In other words, although Jacobs defines a city as a settlement that experiences one or more momentous economic spurts, it only begins to more broadly function as we expect of a city during its period of rounding out. In this chapter we equate Jacobs’ rounding out with development on an urban associational life, unplanned and voluntary creation of a thick layer of small social networks riding the rapid economic changes. They can be interpreted as buffers against the uncertainties and anonymity consequent upon urban growth (Neal 2013, 41). This process is explored for Newcastle upon Tyne, England in the nineteenth century.

Our choice of Newcastle for this case study follows on from previous research on economic spurts through urban demographic growth that found this city to be one of the fastest growing cities in the world for two periods, 1800-49 and 1850-99 (Taylor et al. 2010). Subsequently we have described this economic success in detail showing how Newcastle’s division of labour grew in complexity as it was transformed from a centre for coal export at the beginning of the nineteenth century to become a large city-region as industrial powerhouse by century’s end (Barke and Taylor 2014). This was also a period of massive rounding out in the form of a vast diversity of voluntary associations. Thus huge economic change was accompanied by equally momentous cultural, political and social additions to the activities of the city. In this contribution we outline the methods we have deployed to describe and analyse a growing associational life behind transformation into a multifaceted urban society.

The approach we take is to search out myriad associations of people within Newcastle city-region (roughly equivalent to today’s Tyne and Wear County) across the nineteenth century. Bringing people together means there is a communicative process, each association can be thought of as a small network of people with a shared purpose (such as running a scientific society or celebrating an event or organizing a charity, etc.). We call these functional communicative associations (FCAs) and the ‘rounding out’ of Newcastle is interpreted as the proliferation of these associations. But of course, the city is much more than an aggregation of little networks, active citizens are to be found in multiple associations and their co-locations across FCAs creates a larger interlocking urban network, which is the representation of the associational life that we are attempting to measure. The result is a very large-scale data collection in which we have found 343 FCAs that provide 1329 lists of members (little networks) over the hundred years, and in which we have identified 7,723 active participants. It is this data collection, illustrated with some preliminary results, that is the subject matter of this chapter. It is offered as a conceptualization and methodology that is portable for studying the associational life of cities as interlocking networks across different times and countries.

We proceed as follows. In the next section we introduce the literature on voluntary associations, focusing on debates about their meaning and importance, and how these relate to our case study of a rapidly changing city-region based upon Newcastle. The data collection is then described in detail and initial output in terms of simple descriptive tables is provided. Further discussion of the data is given by considering the credibility and utility of some early results. By this we mean that a new method needs to generate results that are expected to fulfil the credibility criteria, but also to produce novelty results because the unexpected constitutes new knowledge. In the concluding comments we look forward to more advanced analysis that uses co-presences of people in different FCAs to define unfolding interlocking networks as Newcastle’s rounding out in the nineteenth century.

Studies of Associational Life

There is a substantial academic literature on voluntary associations and Smith and Shen (2002) provide a useful entrée based upon the importance of the unit of analysis.  They show that the most frequently studied subject of study is the individual volunteer or member. Second, is the study of specific groups or organizations, or samples of them. Less frequently studied are voluntary associations in aggregate and their population rates, for example in growth, size and decline, within a particular territory or comparison across several territories. In our study we combine the first (individuals) and third (multiple groups) of these approaches. Neal (2013, 37-8) describes this duality between people and groups as a two-mode network structure from which two one-mode structures, person-to-person and group-to-group, can be derived. This enables the interlocking network analysis that is our investigative goal. Thus we search out lists of active participants in multiple groups, numerous voluntary associations throughout the Newcastle city-region between 1800 and 1899. Our specific urban framing is of particular interest, given that most similar studies are based on single core cities (e.g. Shapin, 1974; Gorsky, 1998a; Caglioti, 2006), specific types of association (e.g. Gorsky, 1998b), or examples selected from a wide range of urban centres (e.g. De Vries, 2006; Morris, 2006). In nineteenth century Newcastle its economic growth was accompanied by a wider geographical expansion creating a multi-nodal city region (Barke and Taylor, 2014). Hence our study includes an additional spatial agglomeration process.

Assessing the American Contribution

The literature on voluntary associations is dominated by American scholars and stems from Alexis de Tocqueville’s famous quip, in the 1830s, that Americans were a ‘nation of joiners’ (Neal 2013, 41). This has led to what Skocpol et al. (2000) term the conventional wisdom that democracy and public life in the USA has long been embedded in voluntary membership groups. Such organisations have been lauded as representing an alternative to centralised government actions and large-scale political and economic interests.  This perspective accords with the findings of a large scale historical study (Gamm and Putnam, 1999) that showed that smaller places and places outside the North East had greater numbers of voluntary groups per capita and that they were created and sustained most easily in ‘slow growing communities that were relatively small and homogeneous’ (p. 549). This is at odds with the British literature and view of voluntary associations that argues that they were overwhelmingly urban in origin and more usually associated with rapidly growing cities (for example, Morris, 1983; 1988).  But the ‘localist’ interpretation of voluntary association groups has been challenged in the USA also and Skocpol et al. quote earlier findings that ‘American voluntary groups developed in close relationship to the representative and federal institutions of the U.S. state’ (p.528), and conclude themselves that the ‘localist’ interpretation of the roots of American civic voluntarism is a rather weak one.  This equates with the provenance of some voluntary associations within our study region where the national government is directly involved in legislating for some local groupings.

A further possible contrast of USA and British perspectives on voluntary associational groupings concerns their role as ‘consensual’ agents. Associational culture in the nineteenth century Britain has been argued to be a means of building citizenship and promoting discipline and identity (Morris, 1983).  The fact that many organisations modelled themselves on each other is possibly supportive of this view. However, in the USA much evidence suggests voluntary associations owed their origins to the desire of some groups to differentiate themselves, for example to distinguish clearly between ‘high culture’ and ‘low culture’. Dimaggio (1982) argues that the traditional elite in Boston built institutions in order to retain control of the city’s social life and seal themselves off from the masses. But again, parallels can be found in our study. In nineteenth century Newcastle the Mechanics’ Institute was founded in 1826 as a break away from the Literary and Philosophical Society, which was in the view of the contemporary local historian and publisher Eneas Mackenzie, “daily becoming more exclusive and aristocratic” (quoted in Middlebrook, 1950, p. 228). And this could lead to a reactive spiral of changes: Hall (2006) has argued that, whilst the origins of some associations could be due to a desire to counteract conservative political elites that dominated public life, those elites then frequently responded by forming new associations that maintained and extended their public influence. Our research strategy of examining the networks formed by active members of a wide variety of voluntary associations over a considerable time span has been devised precisely to find such processes.

In summary, we argue that, to place voluntary associations more firmly within their societal context it is necessary to examine the networks formed by individuals, not just the associations themselves. How common was it for individuals to be members of several associations, for example? If so, what sort of organisations featured as key components in the entire superstructure of voluntary organisational culture? An important background feature in this approach is the persistence and volatility of voluntary associations.  This in turn informs any discussion on the consensual (or otherwise) nature of voluntary associational culture.  De Vries (2006) observes for the Netherlands that voluntary associations changed in the course of the nineteenth century from being a unifying force to being representations of sectional interests such as religious and political divisions.  It is arguable that too few historical studies have sought to distinguish between different categories of organisations and have tended to focus on just a few leading examples in a particular place.  General conclusions drawn are likely to be somewhat partial if there has been a failure to recognise the variety of societies including, for example, those that existed simply for pleasure, those whose main focus was to promote sociability, those that were symbolic in some way (e.g. to evoke or reaffirm a particular value system), those that were campaigning for a specific objective, and those that ‘produced’ goods or services or bring about change in relation to some objects or services (Smith and Freedman, 1972). Clearly, such a categorisation includes potential overlap, but the likelihood of differences of emphasis and operation are apparent.  We argue that, in order to reach robust conclusions on the persistence, volatility and characteristics of voluntary associations (and their role in the ‘rounding out’ process), it is necessary to examine a large and varied sample of groups and their active members extending over a long time period.

Further Consideration of the British Context

Although theoretically important, the literature examined so far is predominantly American in origin.  An examination of the literature specifically concerned with associational culture in the British historic context reveals three main groups. In one of the first detailed historical studies, the growth and change of the phenomenon in the early nineteenth century has been interpreted mainly through a historical materialist perspective (Morris, 1983).  Associations were “vital to the distribution and mediation of power within British towns. They were part of the continuous recreation of urban elites in conditions of rapid social and economic change. They were the basis for the formation of middle-class identity” (p.96).  In a later paper, however, the variety and density of associational culture is explained more in terms of the nature of urbanism itself (Morris, 1998), particularly as interpreted by the Chicago school of urban sociology: “The potential for alienation and social disorganization, especially in periods of rapid change and migration, was countered by association.” (p.292).  In the same paper Morris concludes that “Within the urban unit the societies sought to co-ordinate the activities of individuals who often knew each other but had imperfect knowledge of each other …. Central to these activities was the creation and exchange of information.” (p.301). Thus the growth of voluntary association was a product of the conditions of urbanisation and the need to counter alienation and provide an arena for self-expression through the formation of networks.  Whilst the third group of literature makes no reference to this paradigm, it is in some senses related to this perspective as it is concerned with the nature of citizenship (Marshall, 1950; Turner, 1990; 2001).  In conceptual and practical terms, the development of voluntary participative associations may be regarded as an exercise in citizenship.  The latter is, of course, not a static and unchanging phenomenon and it could be argued that one of the functions of voluntary associations was to broaden the experience of citizenship. 

Citizenship is a form of entitlement and at least part of this is maintained and witnessed through voluntary associations and the networks within and between them. It is our view that the character of voluntary associations in north-east England in the nineteenth century can be best understood in terms of these networks, especially as indicated by active individuals. It is in the manifestation of these networks that we find indications of the broader functional role of voluntary associations.  This is grounded firmly in the changing conceptualisations and practical role of citizenship.  So, the study of networks within and between the voluntary associations of the Tyne and Wear area in the nineteenth century is a study of an important dimension of evolving citizenship.  Such an examination throws light, for example, on the role of voluntary associations as ‘ controlling’, ‘consensual’ or ‘divergent’ organisations and  provides a powerful justification for the examination of voluntary associations through a network approach. Such a methodology provides the means to tease out the role and functions of voluntary associations in the context of citizenship and explore their potential contradictions.

This study follows the recommendation of Morris (1983) that it is necessary to examine associations “in particular provincial localities if their unity and fortunes as a coherent social development are to be demonstrated.” (p.96).  The use of the plural is also significant as studies of just one or a limited number of associational types (e.g. Robinson, 2014 on the Royal Society of St. George), although of intrinsic interest within their own terms, serve only to provide a less than complete view of the phenomenon of English associational culture and thus a somewhat distorted perspective. The development of voluntary associations in a region is a complex phenomenon, if only because of the wide variety of such associations. Accordingly, we report on a data set that is rich in depth and broad in temporal extent (Table 2).   We seek to examine the changing nature of voluntary associations within our study area in the nineteenth century in terms of networks. It is in the operation of these networks that we find clues relating to the broader operational role and character of voluntary associations.  Inevitably, a number of specific issues arise.

For example, Morris suggests that many societies, in the early nineteenth century at least, were formed in response to specific urban challenges or crises. He contextualises the growth of societies especially in late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries in terms of the breakdown of consensus and stability (p.99) and the challenge to social authority represented by rapid rates of urbanisation and its consequences.  The growth of voluntary societies is interpreted as a means of “gaining and asserting authority” by the middle-class elites and “defending their social, economic and political power and privilege” (p.101).  But this is to place an interpretation of a long-lasting phenomenon – voluntary associations – within a very specific historical context and may not be a robust explanation over a longer time span, especially when associations of a very different character (non-crisis related) begin to emerge.  Whilst accepting much of Morris’s argument, especially for the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries, we seek to place our analysis of voluntary associations in a longer historical context and, in particular, engage with the Jacobs’ broader hypothesis of ‘rounding out’ as an urban phenomenon.  Of particular concern in this perspective is the differentiation made by Morris (1983) between the first and second halves of the nineteenth century, noting that, in the latter “The societies went on to increase and diversify, but worked within the shadow of state agencies and commercial competition” (p.118). This is undoubtedly the case (School Boards; Poor Law Guardians etc.) but it does not necessarily follow that older associations disappeared or new ones, independent of the apparatus of the state, ceased to be created.

A further issue concerns the relationship of voluntary associations to class.  Morris (1983) is dismissive of the role of the gentry and aristocracy – observing that “The aristocracy had a minimal involvement in the societies described here, and did not generate a network of voluntary societies of their own” (p.113), and also noting that very few were involved, except as patrons.  Many of the associations included in this study did indeed have members of the gentry as patrons, but it is also clear that in many the involvement was more than nominal.  In the cases of the Newcastle Society of Antiquaries and the Natural History Society, for example, the gentry were actively involved, frequently attending meetings and, especially, engaged in activities of collecting, facilitating activities and contacts/communication outside the region, but even more in the publication of scientific papers.   However, the suggestion that one group or class of individuals dominated societies and associations is susceptible to analysis – although rarely attempted – and our data allows some explorations on this issue.

Associational life in the nineteenth century England was largely, although certainly not solely, part of the growth of the middle class. However, the literature on the role of the middle class in voluntary associations demonstrates some contradictory observations. There is a general consensus that a prime outcome was that membership of societies allowed the middle classes to become cohesive and create an identity for themselves.  However, rather more subtly, Morris suggests that membership of voluntary associations was also favoured by the middle classes because they offered the opportunity for mild commitment in a situation of high mobility – “The extreme flexibility of the voluntary society was attractive in the face of great uncertainty and rapid change”.  These two views are rather at odds, with the former suggestive of stability and the latter volatility and high turnover.  However, it is possible the latter perspective underestimates the significance of local status in being a member, especially a committee member, and in fact, the opposite could be the case. Membership of a society offered status, stability and assurance – committee membership even more so.  Nonetheless, there is substantial evidence of disputes between societies and between members of the same society, disputes that would undoubtedly erode the coherence and identity of the membership. Whatever the ultimate conclusion, these apparent contradictions are susceptible to consideration through our approach, demonstrating issues such as continuity, fragmentation or turnover.

Previous Newcastle Studies

Turning more specifically to research within our study area, a number of associations have been studied in our region. Foremost amongst these are the ‘big three’, the Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne, established 1793 (Watson, 1897; Parish, 1989), the Newcastle Antiquarian Society of 1813 (Breeze, 2013) and the Natural History Society of Northumbria, 1829 (Goddard, 1929; Hickling, 1979; Alberti, 2002).   But associational groupings as varied as the social and political affiliations of the ‘unreformed’ (i.e. pre- Municipal Reform Act, 1835) Corporation of Newcastle upon Tyne (Cook, 1961), philanthropy (Burnett, 2009), scientific societies (Campbell, 1968), librarian associations (Duckett, 1996), religious groupings (Mood, 2005; Pickering, 1981), migrant associations (MacRaild, 2005), affiliations formed around newspaper production (Stokes, 2006), trade unions (Allen, et. al., 1971), patronage of the arts (Macleod, 1989), women’s sub-groups of otherwise male dominated associations (MacPherson and MacRaild, 2006), arboreal culture and protection (Ito, 2006) and several others have also received attention.  The majority of these have been studies of the organisations themselves with only limited recognition of the societal context and the nature of the networks they represented.  Nevertheless, this variety and range of associations gives rise to interesting questions about their sheer numbers, their membership and turnover in comparison to other growing cities in the nineteenth century. The growth of an associational culture is well attested but the detailed characteristics rewards quantitative comparative study. Did the Tyne and Wear area have a disproportionate share of such associations?  Were the topical concerns of these associations replicated in other rapidly growing city regions? A plethora of voluntary associational groupings may be interpreted as indicative of a very specific civic culture, one where the social environment (within the limitations of nineteenth century class divisions) sought to encourage participation and involvement. In contrast with the general tone of most studies, one study of the civic community in Newcastle has demonstrated ..” the local intelligentsia’s heavy involvement in the making of populist meanings of the ‘civic’, rather than simply dismissing them as an aloof elite cut off from the people.” (Ito, 2006, p.9).

An important exception to the general tendency to deal only briefly with networks (frequently asserted but rarely measured) concerns Milne’s (2007) study of ‘business regionalism’ in north-east England.  What emerges from this study is not a sense of regional identity but confirmation that the ‘North East’ consisted of a series of smaller localities: “The industrial North East is best visualised as a polycentric space with shifting economic focal points and centres of gravity” (p.122). This is illustrated by the weak cross-ownership and investment from one part of the region to another. For example in 1895, 86 per cent of Sunderland shipowners’ registered tonnage had been built on the Wear and owners based on the Tyne had 65 per cent of their tonnage built on that river. Swan Hunter fitted two out of every three ships they built with engines made by Tyneside firms and the Wallsend Slipway Company supplied 24 different shipbuilders with at least one set of engines between 1870 and 1914, but three- quarters of these were supplied to the Tyneside firms of Swan Hunter (also in Wallsend) or Armstrongs in Scotswood, higher up the Tyne.  Milne traces a series of networks in the economic and business sphere that “worked at two levels – the local and the national – while largely ignoring the regional level represented by the other towns and districts of the North East” (p.127).  This inevitably raises the question – if business networks were so highly localised in the later nineteenth century Tyne and Wear area, to what extent were other forms of organisation and contact within the region similarly fragmented – including voluntary associations? Our study may confirm Milne’s results across a wider realm of activities but might also contradict with cooperation in city-regional associational life being much stronger than in economic work.

Data to Study Associational Life

The unit of analysis of our study are functional communicative associations (FCAs) in the specific context of rounding out a city. The functional means the association pursues an agreed purpose. In practice this translates into our data collection including many more transient associations, often single instances of comings together, than in the literature. We see such temporary, even momentary, associations as particular important in the rounding out process during rapid change. The communicative means the association encompasses a message, each providing something distinctive to urban life. In practice this translates as identifying the more committed members at the expense of those more passive, typically a focus on organizers such as committee members, formally active members rather than ordinary members. Keeping to the spirit of the literature another criterion is that data collected must be available in public sources. This means the masonic lodges and private clubs are only included where information on them is freely available; in practice this means in trade directories or newspapers. Finally, the FCAs are all unplanned (bottom up) as a Jacobs process and are often the result of diffusion of cultural innovation as in the spread of scientific societies in the first half of the nineteenth century and sports clubs in the second half across Britain, both very much including Newcastle. For instance, Newcastle’s famed ‘Lit and Phil’ openly followed the example of the Manchester Literary and Philosophical Society (Harbottle 1997, 54). In addition we do include the local state in the city-region both elected and appointed (general-purpose Councils, Magistrates and Grand Juries, and two specific function organizations Boards of Poor Law Guardians and School Boards both required, from 1836 and 1871 respectively, through national legislation. All members of these state organizations were unpaid and in that sense qualify as volunteers.

The method of data collecting was based upon early research of the world city network (Taylor et al 2002): the scavenger method – searching out any relevant information from myriad sources, in this case publicly available archives and libraries (Table 1). What we are searching for are lists of people organizing an FCA from which we can construct customised data. For each participation list members are scored in terms of their communicative potential ranging from 1 to 4. For instance, for a committee running a society or club, ordinary committee members score 2, functional officers (Secretary and Treasurer) score 3, and figurehead (Chair or President) scores 4, with others in unremunerated positions (e.g. Paton or chaplain) scoring 1. We have been ravenous collectors of such lists, scoring each as appropriate. These are the 1.329 participation lists from 343 FCAs over the nineteenth century mentioned in the Introduction. Thus the focus is as much on individuals as FCAS per se: these are the 7,723 active persons found on the lists as further mentioned in the Introduction. The lists are little networks of people communicating for a purpose; the key point is that many people are found to be members of multiple lists and these indicate larger interlocking networks. This takes us to a network analysis that is beyond the scope of this chapter. In what follows we indicate some initial results that show the overall structure of the data and indications of potent connectivities.

Table 1 Sources for data collection

Tyne and Wear Archive
            Special Collections

The Literary and Philosophical Society of Newcastle upon Tyne
            Society archive

Great North Museum (Hancock)

The British Newspaper Archive
            Newcastle Courant
            Newcastle Daily Journal
            Newcastle Journal
            Shields Daily Gazette and Shipping Telegraph
            Shields Daily News
            Sunderland Echo

The North of England Institute of Mining and Mechanical Engineers
            Electronic archive

Newcastle City Library
            Local Studies collection

Sunderland City Library
            Local Studies Centre

North Shields Library
            Local Studies section

South Shields Library
            Local Studies Collection

Gateshead Central Library
            Local and Family History Service

Structure of the Data

There are many more participation lists than FCAs because we have data for many of the latter for several different years. Table 2 is an array of FCAs by number of participant lists. As can be seen well over half of the lists feature just once. These are largely momentary associations, specific to a particular event such as a celebratory dinner or scientific meeting. But many societies have annual elections to their organizing committee and these are represented by FCAs with several participation lists over different years; for such FCAs this can mean many lists; in four cases there are more than 40 years worth of participation lists. Table 3 shows these participation lists over decades and it can be seen that the number increases over time – reflecting both the growth and increasing complexity (i.e. rounding out) of Newcastle and its city-region. It is noteworthy that no decade falls below 50 lists, which suggests we will be able to generate robust results across the whole century.

Table 2 Participation lists and Functional Communicative Associations

Number of participant lists per FCA

Number of FCAs

% of total FCAs
















6 to 10



11 to 20



21 to 30



31 to 40



more than 40



Table 3 Participation lists over time


Number of participation lists

% of total participant lists































We have divided the FCAs in two ways. First in terms of function they are each identified as cultural, economic, political or social and these are arrayed in Table 4. Once again there are variations in frequencies but without the smallest (political) suggesting any robustness problems. We have more economic FCAs than others but in terms of participations lists cultural FCAs are the most common. This indicates the economic category has more FCAs with low or momentary lists, whereas with the cultural FCAs these are often organized over long time periods It should be mentioned that while carrying out the scavenger collecting we had no inkling that economics had the largest number of FCAs; we operated without targets it just turned out that way. The same cannot be said for the political category where we did exercise some control on numbers of FCAs; because of its formal nature data here is publicly abundant on a large scale and we chose to restrict our data collection to spaced years (e.g. every 5 years for Councils) so as not to overwhelm the data; we did not target this FCA type to be bottom of the list but it remains a reasonable representation of this FCA type.

Table 4 Types of Functional Communicative Associations

Association types

Number of associations

% of total associations

Number of association lists

% of total association lists
















Social (charity, public service)





The second division of the FCAs is much more complicated and relates to the multi-nodal nature of the Newcastle city-region (Table 5). There are five nodes, as well as Newcastle the nearest is Gateshead just across the River Tyne and the other three are on the coast: North Shields (sometimes named Tynemouth) and South Shields either side of the mouth of the Tyne, and Sunderland further south on the mouth of the River Wear. We have devised a spatial framing that features these nodes, combinations and beyond. Five framings are Newcastle-centred: in order the city alone, with Gateshead, with the rest of the city-region, with the county to the north (Northumberland) , with the counties north and south (County Durham) commonly referred to as the “North East” and Tyneside combining the four nodes on the Tyne (i.e. excluding Sunderland). There are also six spatial framings that do not include Newcastle, the other four nodes alone and two coastal links to South Shields, from the north with North Shields, and from the south with Sunderland. Again it should be emphasized that we had no spatial targets in our data collection, but we did attempt to ensure reasonable coverage across all nodes as the sources in Table 1 confirm. The results in Table 5 do show relatively weak coverage of Gateshead but this is partly due to its close association with Newcastle. The difference between North Shields and South Shields is a surprise and although it is barely compensated for by South Shields bi-lateral links north and south, it is robust at 24. However this is not the case for three spatial framings Newcastle/Northumberland and the two South Shields links previously referred to. For these we will not be able to make any evidential statements and, in addition, we will have to be circumspect when discussing the Tyneside framing.  However at the other end of the scale the results are as expected with Newcastle with most participation lists and Sunderland, the second city of the city-region in second place for number of lists. Of the nodal combinations it is the overall city-region, the ‘Metropolitan scale”, that ranks first, which is of particular interest to our study.

Table 5 Functional Communicative Associations within different spatial framings

Spatial framing

Number of associations

% of all associations





Newcastle & Gateshead



Newcastle City Region/Metropolitan



Newcastle & Northumberland



Newcastle, Northumberland & Durham










Tynemouth/North Shields









South Shields



South Shields & Sunderland



South Shields & North Shields






Finally there are types of individual participants that we can identify by their names and titles. Overall these constitute a small proportion of all active persons but their numbers are large enough to make their identification worthwhile (i.e. can generate robust statements). These groups are listed in order of frequency in Table 6. Two stand out – Women and religious persons – but both only constitute about 5% of the total. Of course, this is a very low proportion for women and reflects their being largely absent from the public realm in nineteenth century English society; for reverends this is proportionally high, reflecting the religious nature of British society at this time. Other categories are much smaller but robust and potentially interesting for further analysis.

Table 6 Specific groups of participants

Identifiable groups

Number of participants

% of total participants






















Latent Connectivity

Although we are not reporting network analyses in this chapter we can get a glimpse of what we might expect by focussing on the communicative codes. These are devised to indicate enabling positions of persons in an FCA implying their potential for communication. We will call this the latent connectivity in the data. The sum of all the codes is 70,835, which represents the total latent connectivity in the data.  This can be divided in the same way as participations lists in previous tables. For instance, in Table 7 latent connectivity is distributed over time and can be compared to Table 3. Table 7 shows a similar increasing trend over the century but with slightly higher proportions for latent connectivity over time compared to simple participation. This suggests more complex associations later in the century with more functional (communicative) roles.  

Table 7 Latent connectivity over time


Latent connectivity

%  total latent connectivity































In terms of FCA types the four functions are shown on Table 8 and latent connectivity appears to accentuate the importance of cultural and political types compared to economic and social (Table 4). This shores up the robustness of the political. The large proportional fall for economic FCAs of 6% is a result of this type having smaller participant lists and therefore less functional roles. But the really big changes emerge with latent connectivity appear with the spatial framings (Table 9). Remarkably, latent connectivity proportions are lower for all five single node framings, and combinations thereof, than for participation lists in Table 5. The main reason for this is the very large proportional increase for the city-region metropolitan scale from 12.83% to 33.64%. The only other spatial framing to increase with connectivity is Tyneside (simply metropolitan minus Sunderland). It seems two large functional spatial frames are inhabited by more complex FCAs with additional functional roles. This is an immensely interesting finding to be explored further in this research.

Table 8 Latent connectivity of functional lists


Latent connectivity

% total latent connectivity










Social (charity, public service)



Table 9 Latent connectivity within different spatial framings

Spatial framing

Latent connectivity

%  total latent connectivity





Newcastle & Gateshead



Newcastle City Region/Metropolitan



Newcastle & Northumberland



Newcastle, Northumberland & Durham










Tynemouth/North Shields









South Shields



South Shields & Sunderland



South Shields & North Shields






A more predictable outcome from focusing on latent connectivity is produced when considering the specific groups of participants that can be identified (Table 10). Overall these groups are all made up of relatively important persons and this is reflected in increased proportional latent connectivity compared to participation lists, especially noticeable for reverends (Table 6). But there is one major exception, topping the participation list, women drop to next to bottom of the connectivity list, the only group to decline comparatively. Obviously women’s participation is both little and concentrated in more minor roles.

Table 10 Latent connectivity of identifiable groups

However, there is another important point to be made about Table 10.  Although overall with more important roles compared to other participants, none of the identified groups are found to be particularly important within the wider pattern of associations – for instance none reach even 10% of total latent connectivity. Table 11 puts some names to the leading participants - the top 20 in latent connectivity is shown and all identified groups except women are well represented – and the proportional latent connectivities are individually all quite low. None comes even close to 1%. This is by no means a set of data that lends itself to a ‘who rules the city’ narrative or an historical ‘great men’ narrative; it is truly illustrating a complex mix of associational activity, a ‘rounding out’ in times of dynamic change that involves much common citizenship, 7,723 people in all. This process is analysed in Table 12 where participants are classified by their levels of latent connectivity. Those scoring 1 -2 are the large number of people who are members of just one FCA; this is nearly half of the participants and between them they contribute just under 10% of latent connectivity. But perhaps more interesting are those in the middle levels of latent connectivity. The two levels with the highest percentages of total latent connectivity are those scoring 10 – 19 and 20 – 39; here we are dealing with nearly 1300 people who are typically in 5 to 20 participation lists and contribute a third of all latent connectivity. This is not to say that those listed in Table 11 are not important, but that they are only the tip of a very big iceberg. It is by providing insights into the mass of this associational life that the data we have produced, and the methodology behind it, constitute a new, unique contribution to understanding cities and particularly their rounding out in periods of dynamic change.

Table 11 Top 20 participants for latent connectivity



Latent connectivity

% total latent connectivity


Clayton, John




Bigge, Charles William




Swinburne, John Edward (Sir)




Embleton, Dennis (Dr)




Turner, William (Rev)




Bruce, John Collingwood (Rev, Dr)




Armstrong, William George (Sir, Lord)




Adamson, John (1)




Losh, James




Headlam, Thomas Emerson (Dr)




Trevelyan, Walter Caverley (Sir)




Dees, Robert Richardson




Hodgkin, Thomas (Dr)




Watson, Robert Spence (Dr)




Philipson, George Hare (2) (Prof, MD)




Liddell, Henry Thomas (MP, 2nd Baron Ravensworth)




Stevenson, James Cochran (MP)




Robson, Edward Capper (2)




Bell, Matthew (1) (MP)




Charlton, Edward (Dr)



Table 12 Participants in levels of latent connectivity

Level of latent connectivity

Number of participants

% of participants

Total latent connectivity

% of total latent connectivity



















































300 +










Concluding Comments

We have two comments. First, the simple ordering of the data in the tables above is just a prelude to much further analysis. Obviously cross-tabulation of different variables is the next stage of analysis: we will want to find out how, say, the FCA types relate to the spatial framing. But further along, the data has been specifically collected to facilitate network analyses using the co-memberships of participants, to move from two-mode data (persons/FCAs) to one-mode analyses (person to person networks and FCA to FCA networks). In this way we will describe the associational life of Newcastle city-region in the nineteenth century as a dense world of inter-locking networks. This work is on-going.

Second, we are submitting a methodology for consideration by other researchers on voluntary associations within cities. The unique feature, and its most important characteristic, is the sheer size of the data that is collected. In studying cities it is easy to focus on a few major associations and highlight a well-known coterie of important citizens but for associational life to be fully understood as an integral part of complex city changes requires delving down to myriad associations and people far less appreciated. There is no easy way of doing this except through a large data collection exercise. In this chapter we have offered an example of how this might be done beyond our specific case study.


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* Michael Barke and Peter J. Taylor, Northumbria University, email:


Edited and posted on the web on 27th March 2018