God, Duty and Community in English Economic Life, 1660-1720
The English economy underwent profound changes in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, yet the worldly affairs of ordinary people continued to be shaped as much by traditional ideals and moral codes as by material conditions. This book explores the economic implications of many of the era's key concepts, including Christian stewardship, divine providence, patriarchal power, paternal duty, local community, and collective identity. Brodie Waddell draws on a wide range of contemporary sources - from ballads and pamphlets to pauper petitions and guild regulations - to show that such ideas pervaded every aspect of social and economic relations during this crucial period.
Previous discussions of English economic life have tended to ignore or dismiss the influence of cultural factors. By contrast, Waddell argues that popular beliefs about divine will, social duty and communal bonds remained the frame through which most people viewed vital 'earthly' concerns such as food marketing, labour relations, trade policy, poor relief, and many others. This innovative study, demonstrating both the vibrancy and the diversity of the 'moral economies' of the later Stuart period, represents a significant contribution to our understanding of early modern society. It will be essential reading for all early modern British economic and cultural historians.
Brodie Waddell is Leverhulme Early Career Fellow at the University of Cambridge. He has published on preaching, local government, the landscape and other aspects of early modern society.
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