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Book Cover
Author King, Steven, 1966- author

Title Writing the lives of the English poor, 1750s to 1830s / Steven King
Published Montreal ; Kingston ; London ; Chicago : McGill-Queen's University Press, 2019
Online access available from:
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Description 1 online resource
Series States, people, and the history of social change ; 1
States, people, and the history of social change ; 1
Contents Welfare, power, and agency -- Points of navigation -- Mundane articles -- Official receptions -- Finding words -- History and fiction -- The rhetorical spectrum -- Anchoring rhetoric -- The rhetoric of character -- The rhetoric of dignity -- Rhetorics of life-cycle and gender -- The pauper self -- Process and agency reconsidered
Summary "Tracing the experiences of poor people through their own words, Writing the Lives of the English Poor offers a history of the Old Poor Law from below. Steven King shifts attention from traditional approaches to welfare history, broadly "who got what, when," and reconstructs the process by which the poor claimed, extended or defended their parochial allowances. Colorful stories and histories of ordinary writers, their advocates and the officials with whom they engaged are distilled from the largest collection of parochial correspondence ever assembled and stand at the heart of this rethinking of English welfare history. A telling of these stories suggests that advocates, officials and the poor shared a common linguistic register and understanding of how far welfare decisions could be contested and negotiated. All participants in the tri-partite epistolary world of the parish colluded in the production of fictive accounts of suffering and this tolerance of fiction stood at the heart of the longevity of the Old Poor Law. Ranging the rhetorical infrastructure of pauper letters, Steven King constructs the relief decisions reported in end-of-process accounts as the outcome of a complex train of claims-making and contestation. At a time when the western European welfare model is under sustained threat, this book takes us back to its deepest roots and argues that the signature of a strong welfare system is that rules on entitlement must be, and must be seen to be, malleable."-- Provided by publisher
Bibliography Includes bibliographical references and index
Notes Print version record
Subject Poor -- England -- Correspondence.
Poor -- England -- History -- 18th century.
Poor -- England -- History -- 19th century.
Public welfare -- England -- History -- 18th century.
Public welfare -- England -- History -- 19th century.
England -- Social conditions -- 18th century.
England -- Social conditions -- 19th century.
Great Britain -- Social policy.
Genre/Form History.
Records and correspondence.
Personal correspondence.
Form Electronic book
ISBN 0773556508 (electronic bk.)
0773556516 (electronic bk.)
9780773556508 (electronic bk.)
9780773556515 (electronic bk.)