Social Research Glossary


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Citation reference: Harvey, L., 2012-20, Social Research Glossary, Quality Research International,

This is a dynamic glossary and the author would welcome any e-mail suggestions for additions or amendments. Page updated 19 December, 2019 , © Lee Harvey 2012–2020.


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Arts and crafts movement

core definition

The arts and crafts movement was an English aesthetic and social movement in the second half of the 19th century.

explanatory context

John Ruskin was a major theoretician of the movement and William Morris put the ideas into practice.


The arts and crafts movement reacted against the poor quality of manufactured goods, the social organisation of production and the nature of work in the machine age. A ‘hand made’ industry was recreated along the lines of medieval craft guilds.


The movement produced some fine works and became an important contributor to the art nouveau style at the end of the century.


It can also be seen as a precursor of the Bauhaus in Germany and the Weiner Werkstatte in Austria.


The movement was rather idealistic and not a little utopian but it has a notable legacy in the twentieth century arts centres.


The illustratiion below is by William Morris and from, (accessed 31 January 2013)


analytical review

Victoria and Albert Museum (2016) wrote:

The Arts and Crafts Movement was one of the most influential, profound and far-reaching design movements of modern times. It began in Britain around 1880 and quickly spread across America and Europe before emerging finally as the Mingei (Folk Crafts) movement in Japan.

It was a movement born of ideals. It grew out of a concern for the effects of industrialisation: on design, on traditional skills and on the lives of ordinary people. In response, it established a new set of principles for living and working. It advocated the reform of art at every level and across a broad social spectrum, and it turned the home into a work of art.

The Movement took its name from the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society, founded in 1887, but it encompassed a very wide range of like-minded societies, workshops and manufacturers. Other countries adapted Arts and Crafts philosophies according to their own needs. While the work may be visually very different, it is united by the ideals that lie behind it.

This was a movement unlike any that had gone before. Its pioneering spirit of reform, and the value it placed on the quality of materials and design, as well as life, shaped the world we live in today.


Tate Gallery (undated):

Arts and Crafts was a design movement initiated by William Morris in 1861 which aimed to improve the quality of design and make it available to the widest possible audience.

The Arts and Crafts Movement emerged from the Pre-Raphaelite circle with the founding of the design firm Morris and Co. in 1861 by William Morris. He recruited Dante Gabriel RossettiFord Madox Brown and Edward Burne-Jones as artist-designers with the key principle of raising design to the level of art. Morris emphasised simple functional design without the excess ornament and imitation of past typical of Victorian styles. Wallpapers or fabrics were based on natural motifs, particularly plant forms treated as flat pattern.

The Arts and Crafts movement is often seen as the starting point for modern design approaches, as noted in Nikolaus Pevsner's book Pioneers of Modern Design: William Morris to Walter Gropius first published 1936.

associated issues

See also


art history

related areas



Victoria and Albert Museum, 2016, The Arts & Crafts Movement', originally available at, accessed 12 December 2016. The page has been rewritten and entitled 'Arts and Crafts: an introduction'. The quote in the glossary is no longer as written originally (checked 29 May 2019).

Tate Gallery, nd, 'Arts and crafts', available at, accessed 21 November 2019.

copyright Lee Harvey 2012–2020


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