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Annals of the Labouring Poor: Social Change and Agrarian England, 1660-1900 (Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time) [Paperback]

K. D. M. Snell
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Book Description

2 April 1987 Cambridge Studies in Population, Economy and Society in Past Time (Book 2)
This collection of inter-connected essays is concerned with the impact of social and economic change upon the rural labouring poor and artisans in England, and combines a sensitive understanding of their social priorities with innovative quantitative analysis. It is based on an impressive range of sources, and its particular significance arises from the pioneering use made of a largely neglected archival source - settlement records - to address questions of central importance in English social and economic history in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Levels of employment, wage rates, poor relief, the sexual division of labour, the social consequences of enclosure, the decline of farm service and traditional apprenticeship, and th equality of family life are amongst the issues discussed in a profound re-assessment of a perennial problem: the standard of living (in its widest sense) of the labouring poor during the period of industrialisation. The author's conclusions challenge much of the prevailing orthodoxy, and his extensive use of literary and attitudinal material is closely integrated with the quantitative restatement of an interpretation that owes much to the older tradition of the Hammonds' Village Labourer.


Product details

  • Paperback: 476 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press; Reprint edition (2 April 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521335582
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521335584
  • Product Dimensions: 2.7 x 22.5 x 15 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 967,106 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Review

'Snell's work represents both a weighty and an impressive addition to the literature. It will become required reading for all students of British rural society.' The Times Higher Education Supplement

'It all adds up to a historical tour de force, particularly valuable for its long perspective and for its many stimulating ideas … It deserves to be read, and read carefully, by those who wish to understand better the growth of our modern society.' The Times Literary Supplement

Book Description

These essays are concerned with the impact of social and economic change upon the rural labouring poor and artisans in England, and combines an understanding of their social priorities with innovative quantitative analysis. Annals of the Labouring Poor, first published in 1985, won the Royal Historical Society's Whitfield Prize for that year.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
It is common for historians working on changes in the standard of living and real wage trends to acknowledge the importance and the intractibility of the problem of changing levels of unemployment. Read the first page
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Exemplary work 8 July 2008
By Jon
Format:Paperback
I read this when it first came out in paperback and was knocked out by it. I was therefore surprised that it lacked an Amazon review. Snell has taken a single source and shown how it can be used to reconstruct the lives and social and cultural context of the labouring poor who are frequently outside the understanding of the reader or academic.

Settlement records were designed by a mean spirited bureaucracy to cut the costs of supporting the poor, by showing where they should 'rightfully' be living - an early example of shuffling a problem on to another community. Professor Snell has subverted the evidence to show the intimate and complex lives of our hard pressed ancestors and follow their migration and work and social lives in impressive detail. On the journey he takes in many important asides, considering, for example, the reliability of Hardy as a source for rural history. (His conclusion is to stay away.)

Although worth every penny of the price, I do believe that this book deserves to be available in a cheaper format by now: so that it might be enjoyed by a wider reading public.
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