Relations into Rhetorics: Local Elite Social Structure in Norfolk England, 1540-1840

Hardcover (Print)
Not Available on


In Relations into Rhetorics, Peter Bearman demonstrates how the structure of gentry social relations in England underwent a profound social transformation in the period from 1540 to 1640, laying the groundwork for civil war. This transformation undermined kinship, the traditional mechanism of power for local elites, and replaced it with a national system of patronage-clientage that enabled English elites to transcend local politics.

In this radical revision, Bearman shows how the breakdown of the elite kinship system occurred with the widening circles of intermarriage and the growth of the gentry class.  Diversification in religion and occupation further estranged elites. For many this meant seeking patronage-clientage ties with the Crown and appropriating for themselves a new source of power and prestige under these national relations. In examining the slow change from kinship to patronage-clientage, Bearman details increasing conflict among local gentry who were uncertain as to what were the legitimate bases for social and political action.  An outcome of this uncertainty was the lay elite's articulation of radical and abstract ideologies, puritanism, and constitutionalism, that aided the organization of their activities along national rather than local lines.

Bearman proposes a new method for historical sociology, one based on the analysis of social network structures.  By focusing on the social networks in which the gentry of Norfolk, England, were embedded during the sixteenth century, Bearman shows that network-based models of identity are more powerful predictors of action than competing categorical, or interest-based, models. He depicts the emergence of modern social relations and links the appearance of radical religious identity to larger historical processes.  

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Bearman (sociology, U. of North Carolina) shows how from the mid- 16th to the mid-17th century, kinship ties were replaced by client-patron relations as the primary mechanism of power within the gentry of the English countryside, and how that change laid the groundwork for the civil war. As the gentry class grew, the circles of marriage widened and weakened; religious and occupational differences divided families; power increasingly depended on ties with distant nobility; and local concerns were sacrificed to national politics. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (
Read More Show Less

Product Details

Table of Contents

List of Figures
List of Tables
1 Introduction 1
2 Baseline Models for Action: Property and Conflicts 19
3 The Structure of Local Elite Kinship Networks 47
4 Control through the Court 95
5 Social Structure from Religious Patronage 131
6 Conclusion: Relations into Rhetorics 175
Appendix: Positions of Elites in National and Local Conflicts 183
References 199
Name Index 211
Subject Index 214
Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)