Catalogue


The middling sort [electronic resource] : commerce, gender, and the family in England, 1680-1780 /
Margaret R. Hunt.
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1996.
description
xiii, 343 p. ; 24 cm.
ISBN
0520202600 (alk. paper)
format(s)
Book
Holdings
More Details
imprint
Berkeley : University of California Press, c1996.
isbn
0520202600 (alk. paper)
restrictions
Licensed for access by U. of T. users.
catalogue key
7994865
 
Includes bibliographical references (p. 291-319) and index.
A Look Inside
Excerpts
Flap Copy
"A very full, nuanced, up-to-date, and lucidly expressed account. . . . The discussion is impressively wide-ranging (spanning cultural, economic, intellectual, social, and women's history), and makes valuable contributions to a number of current debates."--Johann Sommerville
Full Text Reviews
Appeared in Choice on 1997-05:
Hunt's brilliant new book seeks to make sense of what one scholar has called the "mess of the middle class." Hunt defines the "middling sort" not as a professional/mercantile class but as a stratum of urban society that subjected itself to the regime of "prudential virtue," with the latter slogan standing for thrift, sobriety, hard work, and deferred gratification (both material and sexual). As she notes, it was self-mastery, not the illusory discipline of the market, that was extolled by the prescriptive literature of the 18th-century moralists. Hunt also revises the view of 18th-century England as a "feminist wasteland" peopled by women who were "too passive or too downtrodden" to improve their situation. Examples abound of individuals (such as Eleanor Coade) who retained some control over their destiny and assisted other women to attain a degree of autonomy for themselves. Hunt examines the crucial role played by families in providing capital in a volatile commercial environment and how all-male religious societies promoted virtues that explicitly rejected the libertinism and profligacy of the aristocracy. Highly recommended Upper-division undergraduates and above. D. R. Bisson; Belmont University
Reviews
This item was reviewed in:
Choice, May 1997
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Summaries
Main Description
To be one of "the middling sort" in urban England in the late seventeenth or eighteenth century was to live a life tied, one way or another, to the world of commerce. In a lively study that combines narrative and alternately poignant and hilarious anecdotes with convincing analysis, Margaret R. Hunt offers a view of middling society during the hundred years that separated the Glorious Revolution from the factory age. Thanks to her exploration of many family papers and court records, Hunt is able to examine what people thought, felt, and valued. She finds that early capitalism and early modern family life were far more insecure than their "classical" models supposed. Commercial needs and social needs coincided to a large extent. The family is central to Hunts story, and she shows how financial struggles brought conflict, ambiguity, and tension to the home. She investigates the way gender intertwined with class and family hierarchy and the way many businesses survived as precarious successes, secured through the sacrifices made by female as well as male family members. "The Middling Sort" offers a dynamic portrait of a society struggling to minimize the considerable social and psychic dislocation that accompanied Englands launch of a full-scale market economy.
Long Description
To be one of "the middling sort" in urban England in the late seventeenth or eighteenth century was to live a life tied, one way or another, to the world of commerce. In a lively study that combines narrative and alternately poignant and hilarious anecdotes with convincing analysis, Margaret R. Hunt offers a view of middling society during the hundred years that separated the Glorious Revolution from the factory age. Thanks to her exploration of many family papers and court records, Hunt is able to examine what people thought, felt, and valued. She finds that early capitalism and early modern family life were far more insecure than their "classical" models supposed. Commercial needs and social needs coincided to a large extent. The family is central to Hunt's story, and she shows how financial struggles brought conflict, ambiguity, and tension to the home. She investigates the way gender intertwined with class and family hierarchy and the way many businesses survived as precarious successes, secured through the sacrifices made by female as well as male family members. The Middling Sortoffers a dynamic portrait of a society struggling to minimize the considerable social and psychic dislocation that accompanied England's launch of a full-scale market economy.
Unpaid Annotation
To be one of "the middling sort" in urban England in the late seventeenth or eighteenth century was to live a life tied, in one way or another, to the world of commerce. In a lively study that combines convincing analysis with alternately poignant and hilarious anecdote, Margaret R. Hunt offers an original view of middling society during the hundred years that separated the Glorious Revolution from the factory age. Thanks to her exploration of a wealth of family papers and court records, Hunt is able to look beyond events - what the new commercial classes did - and examine what they thought, felt, and valued.
Main Description
To be one of "the middling sort" in urban England in the late seventeenth or eighteenth century was to live a life tied, one way or another, to the world of commerce. In a lively study that combines narrative and alternately poignant and hilarious anecdotes with convincing analysis, Margaret R. Hunt offers a view of middling society during the hundred years that separated the Glorious Revolution from the factory age. Thanks to her exploration of many family papers and court records, Hunt is able to examine what people thought, felt, and valued. She finds that early capitalism and early modern family life were far more insecure than their "classical" models supposed. Commercial needs and social needs coincided to a large extent. The family is central to Hunt's story, and she shows how financial struggles brought conflict, ambiguity, and tension to the home. She investigates the way gender intertwined with class and family hierarchy and the way many businesses survived as precarious successes, secured through the sacrifices made by female as well as male family members. The Middling Sort offers a dynamic portrait of a society struggling to minimize the considerable social and psychic dislocation that accompanied England's launch of a full-scale market economy.
Table of Contents
Acknowledgments
Notes on the Text
Introduction: The Middling Sortp. 1
Capital, Credit, and the Familyp. 22
A Generation of Vipers: Prudential Virtue and the Sons of Tradep. 46
To Read, Knit, and Spin: Middling Daughters and the Family Economyp. 73
"Just in All Their Dealings": Middling Men and the Reformation of Manners, 1670-1739p. 101
Eighteenth-Century Middling Women and Tradep. 125
The Bonds of Matrimony and the Spirit of Capitalismp. 147
Print Culture and the Middling Classes: Mapping the World of Commercep. 172
Private Order and Political Virtue: Domesticity and the Ruling Classp. 193
Conclusionp. 216
Abbreviations Used in the Notesp. 219
Notesp. 221
Selected Bibliographyp. 291
Table of Contents provided by Blackwell. All Rights Reserved.

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