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I'm designing a city in 1850's England. The city is known for its industrial/trade endeavors, and has gathered significant population because of them. I've done a fair bit of research and come up with a staple industry and a plot-needed threat to the industry as well, but I'm not certain if they are probable in this setting.

Industry: Brewery and Distillery (Based on my research it was not uncommon for large operations of such to be very profitable. Many even housed their workers as many were german immigrants.)

Threat: The Band of Hope (a TeeTotalling subset of the Temperance Movement, believing that alcohol was responsible for any number of evils and moral degeneration. BOH campaigned for the curtailment of influence of pubs and brewers. Militant with rallies, demonstrations and marches.)

Questions:

  1. What would be the progression of their threat? Rallies, marches (as cited) and then what?
  2. How might the Beer Barons protect themselves from The Band of Hope?

[Questions edited for being too broad per suggestions]

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    $\begingroup$ There are too many questions in one set. I think you could as a start concentrate on the economics: #1 (#5 is opinion-based and that's off-topic). Then, in a second question here, continue with the part about the threat. $\endgroup$ – clem steredenn Oct 5 '15 at 12:07
  • $\begingroup$ I really enjoy the underlying question but agree with bilbo_pingouin that the question asks too broadly. $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 5 '15 at 12:48
  • $\begingroup$ @Green thanks, I posted it in Meta and a mod said it would do. How would you recommend making it more specific without being "too specific" for Worldbuilding? $\endgroup$ – SNSAD Oct 5 '15 at 13:56
  • $\begingroup$ I think you could eliminate question #1 because it's something that you could just state by fiat "Beer is the primary industry in this city." Readers will accept that. #2 is an opinion and can be answered by a fiat declaration that there is a temperance movement. #5 is idea generation. So, if the question was restricted to #3 and #4 then that wouldn't be too broad (IMHO). $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 5 '15 at 14:00
  • $\begingroup$ @KMSDesigner excellent question. Thank you for editing it. $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 7 '15 at 15:25
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The list of questions are quite broad, but I can provide some starting ideas.

In terms of question 2, think about the available sources of media – it would be mostly newspapers at that point, which can very easily shape public opinion considering even factory workers would have news read to them (look up the historical lector). However, there is a disconnect between the elite/politicians and the common people. Despite this, significant riots and movements will grab the attention of the upper-class for certain.

Changing public opinion is not necessary to change the opinion of the aristocracy or politicians. You just need to provide enough incentive or threat. Given that a significant amount of politicians are probably (and this is a probably, not a guarantee, if the politicians are already against the breweries this becomes much easier for the Band of Hope) entrenched or linked with the breweries, persuasion through incentives becomes hard. How can you provide them with more money or power than in the status quo? Threats can range from economic to physical, you can get creative here. Who knows, maybe one of the politicians has family in a nearby city that operates a brewery whose competition is being shut out by the brewery in this city, and all it'll take to push him/her over is a small nudge or visit from the Band of Hope.

In terms of threat progression, there has to be something to rally the cause behind – in this case, religion/religious establishment would be one way to take it. Past marches can escalate into riots and destruction of factories/property with public support. Threats against key figures can always be effective. The terminal goal is probably Prohibition, and honestly this could happen at the rally/march stage with enough political support. Ultimately, this comes down to how willing the political elements are to the idea of prohibition, and how far the Band of Hope can push people to pressure political elements. This can be artificially manipulated both ways (on the political side, or inflating the seeming number of supporters in the movement/damage done).

The crucial thing to note here is that the Band of Hope needs to be able to somehow appeal to the average person. Why would the common worker who slaves for hours a day and relaxes with a beer want to shutdown a brewery? The motivation for this doesn't seem to be grounded in health concerns, given your description of the Band of Hope. Returning to a more conservative moral stance can work, but what would make it more successful than in real life? Either there is some anecdote to manufacture (or coincidentally happen), or there is some sort of slogan/key phrase, or a shift in prevailing attitudes, or some combination in order to really attract the common people.

Mitigation of this can be done through multiple means. Discrediting the Band of Hope through targeting key members or the general message are both possible. They are literally making beer, which they can leverage to sway public opinion. The owners of breweries probably also have significant sway in the political realm through their economic clout, they should be able to do whatever the Band of Hope can, make counteroffers etc. A very large part of the reason why Prohibition didn't work out was simply that there was too much public demand for it, fuelling the underground market. The brewers can easily appeal to the common people and their tastes to reverse public sentiment.

With respect to your first question, I think it's definitely plausible to the average person, if not outright plausible. It's an interesting clash you have set up here, and there are a lot of possibilities!

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A brewing company vs a social advocacy group opposed to alcoholic consumption is a completely plausible in this time period. The Band of Hope is a

  1. What would be the progression of their threat? Rallies, marches (as cited) and then what?

After the event that gave the Band of Hope such large support, rallies, marches and loud public addresses in the city squares would follow. The more politically savvy elements of BoH will start making connections with the Mayor and City Council to start working on alcohol prohibition legislation.

  1. How might the Beer Barons protect themselves from The Band of Hope?

    They may not have to do much actually. Reading up on the Temperance Movement in the UK shows that a lot of Brits are violently opposed to any kind of curtailing on their alcohol consumption.

But, let's say that they have to take action because the Band of Hope has had an unexpected coup in public support.

  • The Beer Barons will be able to quickly make the case that if they go down, the city goes down with it. Alcohol production can be very profitable so if those profits go away so does the city. The Mayor and City Council will have a really difficult time passing laws that curtail the primary tax base of the city.
  • They can ally themselves with the popular sport of the day. Use advertising to form an unbreakable bond between beer/spirits and enjoyment of that sport. The US beer mega-brewers have made that link with beer and baseball and with american football. Telling someone "with the passage of this law you won't be able to get beer at your ball games" is a sure way to get a huge backlash against the Temperance Movement.
  • Alcohol production requires large amounts of grain and grain comes from farmers. In the days before widespread railroads (the UK railways in the 1850s weren't all that extensive) grain would need to be carted in from nearby farms or shipped in on rivers/canals. The Beer Barons need only bring it to those farmer's attention that the temperance movement will not only deprive them of an evening libation but also of their daily living to gain sincere and vigorous support.
  • Glass factories, coopers, bars and pubs will both be heavily affected by a severe reduction in the alcohol industry. Their support shouldn't be difficult to gather.
  • Support from the workers themselves shouldn't be difficult to engage, especially if the brewers and distillers pay a good wage with any fringe benefits such as food and lodging. (Fair and kind treatment of workers will help preclude the workers need to unionize in the next 70 years as a part of the Labor Movement.)
  • Epidemiology may not have progressed enough to show such a connection but this NIH study shows that poor neighborhoods are 86% more likely to binge drink than richer neighborhoods. Simply paying better wages to employees will provide counter examples to Band of Hope's battle cry to completely abstain from alcohol.
  • Make the case that if alcohol is banned (as in Prohibition in the US 70 years later) then a black market for it will appear and cause an increase in violent crime as various criminal organizations vie for market control. Nobody likes violent crime.
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  • $\begingroup$ Very thorough. Nice answer. $\endgroup$ – James Oct 7 '15 at 15:28
  • $\begingroup$ @James Thank you :) I'm happy to finally use an observation I made a long time ago about the alcohol industry in the US in regards to sports. $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 7 '15 at 15:30
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks so much for your insights. You've touched on another element of this that I'd planned the BoH will use against the Barons. They believe that drink keeps people in poverty, citing physical ailments, laziness and other deficiencies. You've given me an interesting idea: the Barons might use philanthropy to curtail that argument. Lift up the "poor" that the BoH stakes their claim on. $\endgroup$ – SNSAD Oct 7 '15 at 17:31
  • $\begingroup$ @KMSDesigner All which plays into one of my favorite subjects, that of income inequality. BoH is attempting to treat a symptom of poverty while the Beer Barons are in a position, should they choose to, to treat the cause of poverty. Philanthropy and just paying good wages would be enough to end BoH's influence. $\endgroup$ – Green Oct 7 '15 at 17:34

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