Anglia Ruskin University

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Reason: This is a draft of the final book. Embargo needs to be in perpetuity.

At Home with the Poor: Consumer Behaviour and Material Culture in England, c. 1650-1850

posted on 2023-08-14, 15:35 authored by Joseph Harley
This fascinating book opens the doors to the homes of the forgotten poor and traces the goods that they owned before, during and after the industrial revolution (c.1650-1850). Using a vast and diverse range of sources, it gets to the very heart of what it meant to be ‘poor’ by examining the homes of the impoverished and mapping how numerous household goods became more widespread. It is argued that poverty did not necessarily equate to owning very little and living in squalor. Rather, most had an emotional attachment to their homes and strove to improve their domestic spheres by making them more comfortable, convenient and respectable through new consumer goods. These important findings illustrate that the poor were not left behind as the middling sort and elite became obsessed with new goods and the home. In fact, demand for goods from the poor was so great that it was a driving force of the industrial revolution. For too long historians have downplayed the role of poor consumers, assuming that they had neither the desire nor the means to buy anything that was beyond necessity. In fact, with each generation, more and more people from poor labouring backgrounds owned greater numbers and varieties of possessions which their grandparents would have thought impossible or highly unlikely to own.



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Manchester University Press

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