According to Comaroff, the industrial revolution had forged the particular sociological context from which arose the clerical army of Nonconformist missionaries to the colonies. Their position as the “dominated fraction of a dominant class” within British society was to have a profound effect on the role of these men in the imperial scheme of things. But more pervasively, the fact that they came from this context, from a social niche wrought by the process of class formation and by an ethos of upward mobility , was also to affect their everyday dealings with “the Other”. (Comaroff, 1991, p19).
The problem of relatively poor education of the aspirant missionaries had been of some concern to Venn but they all had an unremitting commitment to rational self-improvement and “what they wished to see was a neat fusion of three idealised worlds: the scientific, capitalist age in its most ideologically roseate form, wherein individuals were free to better themselves and to aspire to ever greater heights; an idyllic countryside in which, alongside agrarian estates, hardworking peasants, equipped with suitable tools, might produce gainfully for the market; and a sovereign Empire of God, whose temporal affairs would remain securely under the eye, if not the daily management, of divine authority”. (Comaroff, 1991, p 59).